It is probably the biggest casualty of insurgent groups’ exorbitant extortion demands. The Manipur State Aids Control Society has stopped disbursing funds altogether since April to stop the money from going into the wrong hands.
The MSACS is the nodal agency that provides funds on behalf of the National Aids Control Organisation to 67 projects aimed at combating AIDS across Manipur. In 2006-07, NACO released approximately Rs 20 crore to the state, one of the worst-hit with 25,000 HIV-positive people. The money is much needed and goes into the treatment and rehabilitation of HIV patients.
But with no money coming in since April, some community care centres for HIV-positive people have started shutting down. “We are compelled to close down our centre as the authority has failed to release the necessary fund,” said Udoi Thongam, a functionary of the 10-bed care centre at Canchipur. As a result, eight of the 10 patients have been “discharged” while the remaining two have been referred to a hospital.
Likewise, fewer and fewer patients are turning up at the care centres in view of the unavailability of drugs, medicines and food. Services providers (NGOs) are afraid this will once again create a gap between them and the patients. “We are afraid they may go back to their hidden population,” said Meisnam Pushpakanta of Hands for Peaceful society, who too is HIV-positive.
The caregiver feels all the work that has gone into containing the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the region will be “useless” even if 10 per cent of the targeted 40,670 intravenous drug users, including those with HIV, decide to hide in the general population.
The MSACS has stopped funds to over 50 NGOs. Project director Dr T.R. Kom told HT over telephone: “We can’t release the funds because of some external forces. If we release the funds without their consent, we will be in trouble.” He added: “They may be insurgents.”
On Friday, some unidentified persons left a hand grenade at the director’s residence in Langol Laimanai “without saying anything”. The police, who defused the bomb, suspect it to be the work of insurgents.