Ludhiana, November 20
The Punjab Government has plans to shut/merge 21 Integrated Counselling and Testing Centre (ICTCs). At present, there are a total 114 centres in the state. The ICTC is a place where a person is tested and counselled for HIV.
Move according to NACO guidelines
The move has been initiated throughout the country to rationalise these centres. The state government is not doing anything on its own, but it is being done as per the guidelines of the NACO. — Adapa Karthik, Project Director, Punjab Aids Control Society
The National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) has initiated a move throughout the country to rationalise the centres and will be closing those with less footfall or merge them with other centres. The move has put both patients and staff of these centres in a worried state of mind.
An official from the Health Department said earlier NACO had sent circulars to the centres and asked to get more footfall, failing which these would come in the list of rationalisation.
“On one side the government is providing medical facilities at one’s doorstep, while on the other it is shutting the already opened testing and counselling centres. Not only the staff, but even the patients will now have to travel to another place for testing. Haryana will be closing only five centres while Punjab has prepared a list of 21 centres in the first phase itself. We have written to the government, but nothing has been done in this regard,” said Jasmail Singh Deol, president of Punjab AIDS Control Employees Welfare Association.
He further added that the staff were worried about their future as they were working on contract.
A patient from Ludhiana on the condition of anonymity said he came to know that he would now have to go another centre. “I had developed a comfort level with the staff and going to the new centre, which is also a little far away, will be challenging for me,” he said. “It will become difficult for me to open up with the new counsellor,” added another HIV-positive person.
Meanwhile, Project Director, Punjab AIDS Control Society, Adapa Karthik said the move had been initiated as per the guidelines of the National AIDS Control Society. “The state government is not doing anything on its own, but it is being done as per the guidelines of the NACO,” he maintained.
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