Communities & Civil Society Responds to COVID-19 in India

> Communities & Civil Society Actions and Solidarity in Response to COVID-19 > Communities & Civil Society Responds to COVID-19 in India

While India is in a nationwide lockdown for 21 days starting from 25th March 2020, India HIV/AIDS Alliance (Alliance India) has joined hands with its local partners to deliver emergency responses to the communities that it serves.

    • Alliance India has launched a social media campaign titled “#Breakthechain” to raise awareness among communities on COVID-19 infection, precautionary measure and guidance on how to stay safe.
    • Alliance India partners and networks of people living with HIV including health care providers are actively providing support to people living with HIV to access ARVs through accompanied referrals, providing medication at home, counselling and mental health support.
    • To support young transgender people who are entirely dependent on begging and sex work for income, Alliance India is currently collaborating with the state authorities to provide nutrition packages.
    • Alliance India is also accessing the organization’s “emergency funds” to support communities, even though the resources are limited and is not adequate to address the needs comprehensively.
    • Planning is underway to organize a virtual meeting with development partners in India to discuss COVID-19 responses in India.
India HIV/AIDS Alliance Weekly Updates 

The Global Coalition of TB Activists (GCTA) is a coalition of TB affected individuals bringing the lived experience of TB to the global platforms towards a people-centred rights-based response to TB.

GCTA launched a quick survey to gather information from TB communities on the impact of the COVID-19 responses. The results of the survey could be found here.

GCTA joined hands with the TB communities in India sending a letter to the National TB Program requesting for urgent attention to TB and TB patients in India during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The letter calls to ensure strict implementation of the guidelines issued by the National TB Program on 25.03.2020 with close monitoring. In addition, the letter also calls to;

    • Ensure guidance that family members and next of kin can collect drugs on behalf of TB patients so that they might be spared from visiting crowded health centres;
    • Ensure TB patients can access TB drugs from their closest DOTS centre irrespective of their registration site to mitigate challenges arising due to reverse migration underway right now;
    • Consider programmatically looking at a volunteer-based home-delivery of drugs for TB patients to mitigate challenges arising due to public transport being suspended;
    • Give specific guidance on what should be done at the DOTS Centres, how the dispensation of TB treatment could be improved;
    • Issue guidance on quarantine requirements for COVID infected TB patients, TB survivors and key populations;
    • Issue treatment guidance for TB patients diagnosed with COVID so that the person is treated with dignity and not discriminated;
    • Issue Guidance on regimens that should be used since they are already in treatment for TB;
    • Explore the possibility of providing ATT for at least 2-3 months; and
    • Ensure enough CBNAAT Cartridges are available so testing is unhindered as there could be many symptomatic referrals during this pandemic.

The full letter could be accessed here.

National Coalition of People Living with HIV (NCPI Plus)  is a national body of people living with and affected by HIV in India.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent actions taken by the Government of India, NCPI+ has taken several emergency measures to ensure that the communities the organization serves have access to ARTs and other essential requirements without interruption.

    • NCPI+ developed a guiding note on COVID-19 for PLHIV community members which was translated into local languages including Marathi, Gujarati, Asami, and Tamil. This note was widely shared to all state and District level networks by email and national community What’s App group. The guideline in English could be found here.
    • NCPI+ initiated a dialogue with UN agencies, National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) and other CSOs including state-level networks on the COVID-19 situation in India and essential services to HIV communities with the aim of identifying key emergency measures.
    • NCPI+ head office staff members initiated a support system to facilitate access to ARTs for both Delhi based PLHIV community and migrant PLHIV community living in Delhi. As a Sub-Recipient (SR) in 10 states under the VIHAAN program and as SR in North-East states and North states under the AHANA and SVETANA programs, NCPI+ has provided guidance to initiate the same process in many other states.
    • A dialogue was also initiated by NCPI+ with the State AIDS Control Authority to issue a guideline on multi-month ART dispensation, dispensation of ARTs to families at once, decentralization of ART services, utilizing community organization to deliver ARTs etc. The guideline has been issued and could be found here.
    • Together with UNAIDS India, NCPI+ has launched a survey to collect information on ART situation among PLHIV in India. Close to 3000 responses have been collected so far and a daily report is being shared with NACO by NCPI+.
    • Using Global Fund guidelines on using up to 5% of the Global Fund grant value from the grants savings to COVID-19 responses, NCPI+ has made a request to support travel costs for ART delivery and provide masks, sanitizers, soap, gloves and other such requirements to communities.
    • NCPI+ plus has conducted successful advocacy with the Police and Gujarat State Department of Home Affairs to issue guidelines on allowing PLHIV to access the ART centers using the ART Green Book or the ART pill bottle as a pass.
    • In Gujarat State, with the support of media, NCPI+ issued a public announcement on an ART helpline and ART access guideline. Using the helpline, many PLHIV who have been accessing ART through private pharmacies have now been registered to access ART through government ART centres.

NCPI+ wishes to acknowledge the support provided by NACO and State AIDS Control Societies of all states, UNAIDS and PR for Global Fund HIV programme; India HIV/AIDS Alliance and Plan India.