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Focus is on free HIV-AIDS testing, and care for pregnant HIV-positive women. PPP programme makes testing easily accessible for persons reluctant to visit ICTC centre.
While government and non-government agencies are keen on pulling out all stops to ensure that children are no longer born with HIV-AIDS infection, lack of information pertaining to patients seeking treatment in private hospitals stands in the way, believe authorities concerned. Roping in more hospitals and doctors in private health sector can strengthen public-private partnership.
While more than one lakh persons across the State are taking anti-retroviral (ART) treatment in government hospitals, there are an undisclosed number seeking care in private hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes.
Various meetings held in the district have issued a call to private hospitals to share this information as not only does this help in arriving at absolute figures, but also ensures that treatment is standardised and uniform for all patients in the State.
300 private hospitals
The Public Private Partnership (PPP) Programme initiated by Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society (TANSACS) is being strengthened by including more private hospitals and nursing homes under the programme, according to A.Sathishkumar, coordinator, SAATHI, an NGO that acts as a technical advisor for TANSACS. While the programme kicked off in 2009 with 76 hospitals in the State, the number has risen only to 100 in 2012. But things are set to change with 300 hospitals to be included by March this year, says Mr.Sathiskumar. The PPP encompasses Integrated Counselling and Testing Centre (ICTC) and Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission of HIV Centre (PPTCT) services in private hospitals.
In simple terms, the programme hopes to plug gaps in HIV-AIDS treatment in the private sector by providing free HIV-AIDS testing, and care for pregnant HIV-positive women.
Among the four common methods of transmission of HIV, mother to foetus transmission is one.
The importance of screening all pregnant women for HIV-AIDS on their first visit to the gynaecologist is what the agency advocates to all doctors in the private sector. Women who test positive after voluntary testing in private hospitals will be linked to the Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission Programme to ensure HIV virus is not transmitted to infants.
“The main focus of the programme is to track women receiving ante-natal care,” says Selvakumar, district supervisor, District AIDS Prevention and Control Unit. “While we keep track of those in primary health care centres and government hospitals, there is no information on children born to HIV-positive mothers in private healthcare sector.” Public-private partnership also enables providing free triple drug ARV ART to all HIV-positive pregnant women which in turn would ensure that infection is not transmitted to infants.
The PPP programme also makes testing easily accessible for persons who are reluctant to visit an ICTC centre. Free testing kits are provided by TANSACS to hospitals enrolled in the programme. If a person tests positive in the preliminary test, he or she is referred to ICTC centres for confirmatory tests. “The partnership will help us track persons reporting to private hospitals and ensure they continue treatment,” says Mr.Sathishkumar.
“When a private hospital enters the PPP programme, they can coordinate with doctors at government hospitals to ensure that patients they refer have turned up for testing or treatment.” SAATHI will be engaged in the sensitisation of private hospitals and practitioners, which it has been doing in 800 hospitals across four States. Recently, a similar programme was organised by TRIOGS and IMA for city doctors here.