Ludhiana, June 16 (ANI): Lashing out against the government's decision to sack them, AIDS outreach workers staged a highly charged agitation here on Tuesday.
Demanding that the government immediately reinstate them, the outraged workers carried out a long march across the city and chanted slogans to vent their anger.
The state-run National Aids Control Organization (NACO) had recently terminated the services of nearly a thousand outreach workers in India, citing lack of grants and funds.
"The Punjab state Aids Control Society, run by NACO, had employed me as an outreach worker in 2008. NACO has now terminated us saying that our contracts have expired and that there are no grants available with them to renew our contracts. This is wrong," said Geeta Rawat, a protestor.
Expressing her frustration, Rawat said that since NACO operated from grants given by the World Health Organization, it could not have been 'stopped' as was being claimed by the government.
"The most special vacancy under NACO is that of the outreach worker. This is so because an outreach worker is himself an HIV-positive person. Many infected people come forward to avail themselves of treatment solely due to the efforts of the outreach workers. The patients can relate to an outreach worker easily, and know that he will take adequate steps to help them out," said Kripal Singh, a demonstrator.
India has the world's third biggest caseload of people living with HIV. (ANI)