Reported by Santosh Jagdev
Bhubaneswar, Dec 22 :
The main objective behind Union AIDS Control Department’s(UACD) Link Worker Service (LWS) project is to facilitate efforts towards the prevention, referral and follow-up services to High Risk Groups (HRGs) and vulnerable groups in rural areas and capacity building among rural communities to fight HIV/AIDS, the UACD Secretary Lov Verma said on Sunday.
Verma was speaking at the inaugural session of Link Workers’ Convention organized by the leading NGO, ActionAid, here.
Emphasizing on the role of Link Workers in community mobilization, Verma said one link worker in one gram panchayat covers a population of 5000 across 4 to 5 villages. LWS covers minimum 4 blocks and 40 gram panchayats in each project district. Therefore, in each project district in the state there are at least 40 link workers operating at the panchayat level, he said.
These community workers check vertical transmissions of HIV/AIDS among poor and vulnerable people across the country particularly in Ganjam district of Odisha where during a test, as many as 18 persons out of 20 migrant labourers who had returned home, were found infected with HIV, Verma said, adding, in its second phase the LWS project has been implemented in 6 districts -Khurdha, Ganjam, Nuapada, Sundargarh, Cuttack and Puri – and covered 27 blocks, 243 panchayats, 1211 villages and a total population of 12,24,436.
The Link Workers function as catalysts in the battle against HIV and AIDS in the rural areas. They educate the people about the available public health services for the sexually transmitted Infection (STI ), integrated counseling and testing centres-ICTC and anti retroviral therapy (ART).
Verma said, “We will further intensify our drive in HIV/AIDS affected areas in our second phase.”
Addressing the convention, the Odisha State AIDS Control Society (OSACS) Project Director Dhiren Pattnaik assured ActionAid of all possible government support for their community engagements and awareness drive to fight HIV-AIDS.