TRCF launches AIDs awareness programme for Gujjars in Kashmir

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Srinagar, Jul 14 (UNI) Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation (TRCF) has launched a four-fold awareness campaign among the nomadic tribes to educate them about HIV/AIDS and other venereal diseases in the Jammu and Kashmir.

National Secretary of TRCF, a national organisation working for Tribals in India, Dr Javaid Rahi said keeping in view the lack of awareness about deadly diseases and sexually transmitted infections among the Gujjars and Bakerwals, the campaign was launched from Yusmarg, about 85 km from here.

''To begin with, the movement has been launched in Jammu and Kashmir and its field of activities will gradually be extended in 11 states which includes Rajasthan, Punjab, Gujarat, Harayana, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, having a substantial chunk of Gujjar population'', Dr Rahi said.

The Tribal Gujjars, who constitute 20 to 25 per cent population of the state have very negligible access to modern health care facilities in Jammu and Kashmir, he said, adding there is high vulnerability among the youth and those who come into contact with non-tribal populations.

He said TRFC has already initiated the process of awareness programme in Gojri, the language of nomad Gujjars by through oral tradition and folk-poetry, poster making and folk-theatre throughout the tribal areas of the state.

''We are beginning an innovative approach to venereal diseases by focusing on HIV/AIDS prevention by involving folk artistes, story tellers, folk-painters and theatre performers for the purpose,'' he said.

He expressed the hope that the awareness through folk medium will prove powerful enough to counter the threat of deadly diseases among the tribal population of the State.

Dr Rahi said Gujjars have a very low literacy rate and various schemes launched by the government does not reach them.

He said in order to create awareness among the nomadic people besides making them health-conscious and protecting them from deadly diseases like HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, Jaundice, Malignancy, Carcinoma, and water-borne diseases, the organisation has launched a movement with the help of some community volunteers who shall carry forward the movement in the far-flung and inaccessible areas of the state.

''Being tribals and nomads they are not much exposed to various awareness programmes, he said, adding they are also reluctant to discuss their diseases.'' Besides folk medium, TRCF is also using religious and community contacts to educate them about the ailments, Dr Rahi said, adding the foundation is also in the process of roping in various groups of ''Tribal Gujjar Doctors'' who, on voluntary basis, shall be visiting the areas for educating the nomads in their mother-tongue about health care and the programmes launched from time to time.

''We will provide all type of logistic support to the doctors of other communities besides those who speak Gojri,'' he said.

UNI BAS SB RK1350

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