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Funds delayed, affect NACO’s HIV campaign

Thursday, December 03, 2015
By Vrushali Purandare

NGO workers see greener pastures which is fallout due to  delay in getting funds

Postponement in deployment of funds for NACO's HIV awareness drive, as per Mumbai District AIDS Control Society (MDACS), this year has led to a marked decline among the outreach workers, resulting in the funds reaching to the  high risk population of only about 30%.

Delay in getting funds from national aids control (NACO) programme has led to confusion among alienated workers associated with various NGOs involved in HIV awareness programme. Since the NGO workers are not getting  proper payment on time, they seek greener pastures even as the stakeholders in the state and city are at their wits end as they bid to keep the awareness  drive alive in all doable ways.

Dr Shrikala Acharya, additional project director, MDACS  noted, “The delay in distributing funds to the NGOs has definitely  affected them, but we are managing and for that we have taken loan from BMC which was sanctioned. We have been slowly clearing their dues,   which has led to outreach workers leaving the programme for better prospects. The trend has affected the outreach programmes. While last year, our coverage was 62%, this year it is around 60%”.

“There are  48 NGOs working with HIV high-risk categories, including sex workers, intravenous drug users, transgenders, migrants, ett.  Whatever MDACS states ,  that earlier they had 250 outreach workers, but the figure has come down to 175. Training of new counsellors has been kept on hold and salaries are stuck. The workers have not been paid their dues since September. Some of their wages for June and July also pending. In the past when NACO used to send funds directly to the societies, funds are now being directed to the state. It's quite shocking as yesterday being World AIDS day, we had asked for 'condoms' but  MDACS dont have condoms,”Eldred Tellis, spokesperson for the Mumbai AIDS Forum and director of Sankalp Rehabilitation Trust said.

The finance ministry has been delaying matters after which the money will be sent to the funds and then disbursed among the societies. Maharashtra State AIDS Control Society (MSACS) would be  receiving  money from the government, which will then be given to the Mumbai District Aids Control Society (MDACS).  Its a sheer  delay of funding which started from last year.

According to the officer, funds assigned to each of the targeted intervention projects are in the range  from Rs 8 lakh to Rs 20 lakh. Community based organisations have been severely hit because of the delay in funding. It has also led to the late acquisition of medicines, affecting many people. Also qualified people are compelled to leave their jobs .

A worker working with NGOs has a monthly salary of Rs7,500.-15,000. NGOs haven't received any payment since August, some of them since June.  The first instalment from NACO saw the workers being paid their April-May salary.

For June-July-August, the money from NACO has reached state government but NGOS are yet to receive it.

However, the money given to the NGOs for these months has been done by taking loans  from the BMC, The NGOs  have also not utilised the money kept for integrated counselling and utilised it for giving salaries.

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