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Editorial vocab dose 17 The Hindu by Ajay Sir

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Forced out by a funds squeeze(firmly pressed)

It isn’t the fever and chikungunya symptoms that perturb(anxious,चिंतित) Ompal Singh so much. Resting in his one-room flat in a nondescript colony in Mandoli, north-east Delhi, the 50-year-old agonizes(worry,व्याकुल) more about his persistent(continuous,निरंतर) cough and weight loss. He has lost seven kilograms in just two months and his immunity levels are dropping — alarming given his condition.

Meanwhile, his wife, Anita Kumari (48), has become addicted to painkillers. She cannot straighten her back or stretch her arms. She knows it is the big lump on her back causing all the pain and doctors have advised her surgery. But the doctors keep referring her to other hospitals, she says.

Both Mr. Singh and Ms. Kumari tested HIV positive in 2006 — after she contracted(reduce,संकुचित) the virus during a premature delivery-linked blood transfusion(an act of transferring donated blood) — but it is now that they have started feeling its pinch. Especially with their jobs snatched away. “Our diet is not the same and even treatment is suffering,” rues Mr. Singh.

Disclosure and discrimination(unfair treatment,भेदभाव)

In 2008, when the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) launched the Prevention of Parent-to-Child Transmission Programme (PPCT), the husband-wife duo enlisted with an NGO as outreach workers for the HIV awareness initiative along with 13 others. Their job was to help HIV-positive pregnant women with their medication and monitor newborn babies. “We have seen discrimination in hospitals against HIV-positive women from such close quarters. Doctors would refuse to carry out C-section, nurses hurl abuses even while the woman is crying in pain,” says Ms. Kumari. “Our role was to help such women.”

However, in December last year, the scheme was abruptly(suddenly,अचानक) ended citing(mentioning,उल्लेखित) lack of funds, rendering(give,देना) the outreach workers jobless. This, when all 15 workers are themselves HIV-positive and on antiretroviral therapy. In order to effectively carry out their roles as outreach workers, these individuals were asked to disclose their condition to the community and their families at the risk of social marginalization. With people around them knowing about their HIV status, these workers are now not only struggling to get alternative employment but have had to move house. “Earlier, we were staying in different colonies in east Delhi. But with no money and neighbors boycotting us, eight of us are now living in the same locality to help each other,” says Rajesh Kumari, another outreach worker, who has been working as a maid for the past three months.

In the lurch

The outreach workers have tried it all to have their voices heard — from writing letters to the Health Ministry to protesting at Jantar Mantar. The PPCT scheme was halted in Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab at the same time but Punjab restarted the scheme in June. “When Punjab can, why can’t Delhi and Himachal Pradesh,” asks Anjali Singh, showing a dossier(a collection of documents about a particular person, file or report) of letters written to Ministers, officials and protest clippings.

“Budget cuts started in 2013 under the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) regime; the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) government may end it completely in their term. Whatever was achieved in all these years is being undone,” says Ganesh Acharya of Mumbai AIDS Forum.

On August 16, these workers met Delhi Commission for Women chief Swati Maliwal for help. The commission subsequently(after,बाद में) wrote to the Delhi State AIDS Control Society (DSACS) and was informed that the latter had no NACO funding to support these persons. “This forced me to write to Health Minister J.P Nadda about the issue,” says Ms. Maliwal. Mr. Nadda replied stating that he will personally look into the matter.

“He should do something, or else give us permission to kill ourselves,” says Kanhaiya Kumar, one of the affected. It’s fingers crossed for the group of 15, for now.
courtesy:The Hindu

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