Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, 1 Dec:
AIDS continues to play havoc in Odisha while the government remains blissfully impervious to the grave implications of the spread of this diease.
Only one patient was found when National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) started its work in Odisha to contain HIV/AIDS in 1992. In the 22 years since then, the number of those afflicted with the disease has shot up to a staggering 33,515. And, the number keeps rising at an alarming rate with an average of about 3,500 patients being identified every year.
Going by the spread of the disease, Odisha ranks 14th in India. The prevalence of AIDs in India stands at 35 per 10, 000 people. In Odisha, it stands at 31 per 10000 people. Although, Odisha is not yet considered ‘highly vulnerable’, it is still considered under significant risk.
The states where HIV prevalence is higher than Odisha are Rajasthan, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Maharashtra, Delhi, Gujarat, Chhatisgarh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland.
While Nagaland stands at the top in terms of prevalence with 88 cases found for every 10, 000 people, Kerala sits at the bottom with just three cases for every 10, 000 people. Four of the union territories – Andaman-Nicober, Puducherry, Chandigarh and Dadra-Nagar Haveli – are HIV free.
As per Government of Odisha reports, over 3 Lakh people are consulting doctors for HIV every year. Two lakh out of them are getting their blood samples checked. Almost 3, 500 people have tested positive for HIV/AIDS out of the test results.
The report clearly suggests the gigantic threat this incurable disease poses for Odisha. During 2009-10, about 19,674 tested positive for AIDS. The number shot up to 23,535 during 2010-11, reached 27,000 during 2011-12 and crossed 30,176 in 2012-13. This year, the tally has reached 33,515 till October.
As per reports of Orissa State AIDS Control Society (OSACS), the prevalence, so far has been highest in Ganjam with about 35.9% of the total identified cases of Odisha living in the district. Cuttack comes a distant second with 13.2% cases. Districts such as Koraput, Sambalpur, Khurda, Anugul, Balasore and Nayagarh follow suit. Boudh features last in the stack. While 1350 patients had lost their lives by 2012, the numbers have gone much higher by now.
The numbers of patients in Odisha, however, are speculated to be far higher (above 50,000) as per non-government sources.
National AIDS Control (NACO) NACO keeps funding the state government to contain HIV. The government, in turn, claims to spend the money for the right causes too. Odisha received aid of Rs 113,97,32,000 from National AIDS Control (NACO) and other sources during 2009-14. Government claims to have spent about Rs 112.50 crores within the period for creating awareness, advertisement, prevention and cure of the disease.
Government claims to identify and treat patients in temporary and permanent health centers of OSACS. Also, claims to be the first state in India to have supported the patients through ‘Madhu Babu Pension Scheme’.
However, the results neither quite justify the expense nor the effort. Fact remains; there hasn’t been a single meeting of OSACS managing committee through this whole year so far and it puts enough light on the intention and dedication of the government to contain AIDS.
The government stays asleep while AIDS takes Odisha into its clutches.