The Health Ministry has sought the inclusion of vulnerable groups such as drug addicts, transgender persons and those suffering from HIV/AIDS in the social protection schemes run by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, saying they are struggling for livelihood and shelter because of the coronavirus-forced lockdown.
The Health Ministry received representations from civil society organisations and key population representatives, like injecting drug users, the transgender community, female sex workers and HIV/AIDS-affected people, that they are "greatly affected" in terms of livelihood, nutrition and access to shelter and other essential services, officials said Thursday.
"The Ministry of Health is intensely engaged with COVID-19 response and has taken steps to ensure uninterrupted service delivery to those who need essential health services.
"The Ministry of Health is providing essential services in terms of medicines and other treatment to people living with HIV and key population but does not have any social protection schemes related to livelihood, nutrition and access to shelter, etc for these populations," Deputy Director-General of the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) Dr. Shobini Rajan said in a letter to the Social Justice Ministry.
"In this context, it is requested that you may look into the matter and explore the possibility of inclusion of key population and people living with AIDS/HIV under various social protection schemes that are supported under your ministry," said the letter addressed to the Secretary in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
The official also requested that advisories/directives be issued to the ministry's state line departments for necessary action.
They may consult and coordinate with project directors, state AIDS control societies, who will in turn ensure linkages to these populations to social protection schemes so that their needs of livelihood, shelter, nutrition are partially catered to, Dr. Shobini Rajan said in the letter.