Manipur organizations have raised serious concern over the frequent stock out issue of anti-retroviral treatment (ART) medicines in the State.
Five different organizations which are dealing with the issues of HIV/AIDS have raised their voices against the indifferent attitude of the government and appealed for maintenance of ART buffer stock for the welfare of the people particularly the people living with HIV(PLHIV).
Speaking to reporters at Manipur Press Club in Imphal on Monday, Manipur Network of Positive People (MNP+) president Deepak Leimapokpam claimed that according to the technical report of the India HIV Estimate 2017, there are about 31,549 PLHIV in Manipur.
Out of which 13,075 of them including 6,182 women are on ART as of October 2019.
The press conference was organized jointly by MNP+, Community Network for Empowerment (CoNE), Social Awareness Service Organisation (SASO), Kripa Society and Care Foundation.
Therefore, when such a high number of PLHIV are not under ART in addition to frequent ART stock out issue faced in the state, it will not be possible to achieve the 90:90:90 target for 2020 to end AIDS by 2030 as set by UNAIDS, Deepak alleged.
The CD4 machine installed the government hospitals in Imphal are outdated and unreliable.
Therefore it has become the need of the hour to form a committee comprising members from the community, ART centre and Manipur state AIDS control society which will regularly stock out the issue of ART in all the centres across the state, he suggested.
Sharing his view, president Nalinikanta Rajkumar of Community Network for Empowerment (CoNE)said that the government of Manipur, no doubt, has taken up various initiatives for the welfare of the community people including those living with HIV by initiating free ART roll out in the state since 2004 and second line ART from 2008, which is appreciable.
Though the government has been providing free ART and saving the lives of people living with the disease, yet frequent stock out issue of the drug has made many of the people living with the disease resistant to the drug they are consuming compelling them to switch their regiment from first line to second line and third line until there is no option for them, he claimed.
But despite his assurance during the recent State Grievance Redressal Committee Meeting that the matter would be carefully looked into, nothing has been materialized as of now, he alleged.
Nalinikanta also informed that out of 13,075 PLHIV who are on ART, only around 1600 of them have been started monitoring for viral load which is very less comparing with UNAIDS 90:90:90 target.
However, despite the various developments seen in the fight against the HIV epidemic, there are still veracious issues to be looked into and monitored carefully to achieve the target of eliminating AIDS by 2030.
The representatives of the NGOs also pointed out the need for the government to get all the stakeholders together and solve the current issues.
Key functionary Yumnam Sashikumar of SASO, Kripa Society president Hijam Dinesh, MNP+ general secretary Salam Udita Devi and Care Foundation general secretary Thagjam Jotin Singh also present during the press conference.