HIV/AIDS MAINSTREAMING WITH SOCIAL WELFARE DEPARTMENT: PIONEER FOR MAINSTREAMING INITIATIVES WITH VARIOUS GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS IN KERALA

The Mainstreaming Division of Kerala State AIDS Control Society has started mainstreaming initiatives with the Social Welfare Department, Government of Kerala. This is the first Department selected by KSACS to mainstream HIV/AIDS interventions with the regular and ongoing projects and undertakings of a Government Department in Kerala. It is expected that the effort will blaze a trail to onset mainstream initiatives with other Government Departments in Kerala.

Department of Social Welfare, Government of Kerala is now one of the major Departments in terms of its size and service delivery, having grass root level network of institutions like Anganwadi Centers for each 800 population; 57300 field staff and 3524 permanent staff. All BPL families, old aged, destitute, disabled and women and children in distress are the direct or indirect beneficiaries of the various schemes implemented by this Department. The Social Welfare Department is intended to provide Social Security and Social defense services to the vulnerable sections of the society. Mainstreaming HIV/AIDS initiatives/interventions in this Department will certainly pave ways and means for sustained impact in combating HIV/AIDS.

Even though there are conflicting themes in HIV/AIDS intervention, Social Welfare Department, with its enormous resources and vast network, can undertake HIV/AIDS and sexual health awareness generation, health education, adolescent education, women empowerment, addressing gender related issues, social marketing to support income generation and supporting de-addiction initiatives. Collectivization & empowerment of female sex workers, harm reduction initiatives in injecting drug use, support for safe sex practices in FSWs and MSMs, etc. are some of the conflicting areas related to HIV prevention initiatives. More such conflicting areas will be recognized jointly by KSACS and Department of Social Welfare. Such areas may not be undertaken by the opposite sector, but it is agreed that either of the sectors shall not openly criticize the other sector’s strategy.

Social Welfare Department has nominated State Level and District level Nodal Officers to coordinate the HIV/AIDS mainstreaming initiatives at various levels. Mr. Raghavan Unni, Joint Director is the State Nodal Officer nominated for the purpose.

An action plan has been developed based on a strategic planning facilitated by professionals who have functional knowledge and understanding on NACP programs and on the mission of the Social Welfare Department. One of the best and innovative initiatives suggested on the basis of this plan is the development of an “HIV Policy for the Social Welfare Department”. All institutions working under the Department is supposed to abide by this policy and undertake welfare initiatives accordingly after the finalization and implementation of the policy.

The developed action plan identifies seventeen areas where the Department can actively include the HIV/AIDS component. This includes nutrition support to PLHIVs; shelter home for female sex workers in need; care centers for supporting income generation for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) and members of high-risk groups; source reduction programs and de-addiction programmes for injecting drug users(IDU); Adolescent development and assertiveness programmes; Interactive awareness program during mothers meets and house visits; Resource pool development through the capacity building of staff members and grass root level workers; display of IEC materials in the institutions; involvement of Anganwadi Workers in stigma reduction, etc.

KSACS is supposed to provide necessary contributions in the mainstreaming initiatives in terms of technical inputs in various forms, provision of apt resource persons, infrastructure support, capacity building trainings to officials and grass root level workers, provision of IEC materials, etc.

As an immediate result of the mainstreaming initiatives, the Social Welfare Department sanctioned an amount of Rs.49.64 lakhs for providing nutrimix (nutritious food supplement) to women and children who visits ‘USHAS’ Centers for ART. They also started initiatives to capacitate their grass-root level workforce viz. Anganwadi workers. More programmes are in the pipeline and the Department and KSACS are working towards ensuring its success.

It is expected that this mainstreaming initiative will help to scale-up the interventions among the general public as well as the vulnerable groups to prevent new infections. It will certainly contribute to halt and reverse the epidemic at the earliest. It will be helpful in integrating the HIV/AIDS issue with the national programmes like ICDS. This initiative will certainly attract more Government Departments in developing HIV/AIDS Policy to incorporate such initiatives with their ongoing activities and programmes.

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BEST PRACTICE DOCUMENTATION UNIT
IEC DIVISION, KERALA STATE AIDS CONTROL SOCIETY
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, KERALA
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Management Support by:
Hindustan Latex Family Planning Promotion Trust (HLFPPT)
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Comment by Geoff Parcell on July 27, 2010 at 7:42pm
You are obviously making an impact with your provision of services. Can you tell us more about how this impacts people at a human level? Share personal experiences please.

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