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Unique HIV Clinic in India
  TAAL-A centre & pharmacy for people with HIV/AIDS
2006-07-29 12:46
Taal is a unique care & support initiative in Asia pacific to expand access to treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). It is distinctive in the fact that "Taal" is run by people living with HIV/AIDS for people living with HIV/AIDS established by Emcure, Network of Positive People Living with HIV / AIDS (INP+) , Network of Maharashtra by People Living with HIV / AIDS (NMP+,NNP+)
Taal is an example of much needed Corporate & Public partnerships in expanding the HIV prevention and care effort. Emcure Pharmaceuticals Limited, one of India's leading pharmaceutical company in association with NMP+, INP+ had launched the first of its kind "Taal" centre & pharmacy at Pune in January 2006. In continuation to make TAAL services accessible to more number of PLWHA, the second in the series of TAAL centre & pharmacy is established at Nagpur. This centre will have a pharmacy which will dispense Antiretroviral & other drugs at substantially subsidized cost for people living with HIV/AIDS. & will also have counseling services and will facilitate access to medical advice regarding treatment for HIV positive people.
Speaking at the unveiling ceremony Mr. AK Khanna, Executive Director Emcure Pharmaceuticals Limited said, "Most of the HIV-infected people are from the productive age group of 19yrs to 49 yrs & there is also an increase in the pediatric age group. To manage and treat the epidemic is a major challenge as there is the social stigma, discrimination and ostracization of the persons infected with the virus by not only the society but by their own family as well. With this unique centre & pharmacy Emcure has joined hands with like minded people from NMP+,NNP+, INP+ to further its corporate social responsibility effort to fight this social stigma and allow people living with HIV/AIDS to seek treatment with dignity". As part of this corporate social responsibility initiative Emcure will supply the pharmacy with a range of antiretroviral drugs at subsidized prices apart from supporting the infrastructure requirements, while NMP+, NNP+ and INP+ will manage the programme. Those HIV+ people registered with NNP+ will avail of the benefits of the pharmacy. Apart from medicines TAAL will provide consultation on treatment, counseling and advocacy to People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). In the coming months the concept will be replicated in many other cities in India with high prevalence of HIV/AIDS.
Mr. Shivaji Barge, Vice President, NMP+ during his address stated that "Despite initiatives by organizations like WHO & NACO there are still many numbers of PLWHA who are not receiving medication, complicated eligibility criteria, non-availability of required testing are also roadblocks. With this initiative we are hoping to bridge a part of this gap, while ensuring that the social stigma of the illness does not pose a further barrier."
Ms Rati Agnihotri leading Cine star who unveiled the First Taal Centre in Vidhrabha region at Nagpur & Second in the series of Taal centre's stated that "It is important that people cease to exclude those living with HIV/AIDS and recognize the need to provide accessibility of therapy and treatment to them. Understanding the disease and showing compassion for HIV+ people will help manage and minimize its spread."

Six-month-old HIV pharmacy rides success wave
Pune's story reaches Nagpur where outlet will open tomorrow Anuradha Mascarenhas
Pune, July 26: ARUNA Pande (name changed), resident of Kasba Peth, has been living with HIV for six years but she does not take medicines. It is her fervent hope that she does not have to take anti-retroviral pills again as she takes the daily bus to her office at Nana Peth that dispenses life saving drugs for People Living with HIV and AIDS (PLHA).
Aruna loves her new office. So does Naina, a counselor, who does not hesitate to announce her HIV status. Both work at this new one-stop shop 'TAAL' run by PLHA for the PLHA.
With a supportive boost from a local pharmaceutical firm and a grant from United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), it was a dream come true for the Network of People Living (NMP+) with HIV who got into the business of buying and selling medicines to help PLHAs.
Six months after setting up the 'Treatment Adherence Advocacy Literacy (TAAL), the NMP+ have registered 450 people who require drugs on a sustained basis. An approximate 1,040 people have purchased drugs at subsidised rates.
While efforts are underway to examine patients for their CD4 count by installing a machine, the success of the Pune model has spawned another pharmacy along the same lines at Nagpur. It is scheduled to begin operations on July 28.
"We have counselling sessions for them apart from the doctor's visit every Friday," says Manoj Pardeshi, who has been living with HIV for more than 10 years and was the former president of NMP+. Now a global advisor at 'We Care' on HIV, Pardeshi also has plans to set up a 'positive living centre' that provides recreational space for PLHAs.
"Doctors do not want to touch us with a barge pole. Even if the PLHA has high fever, the doctor will refer us to a government or corporation hospital," says Pardeshi. So when the idea of starting a one-stop treatment shop where PLHAs can get their CD4 count examined, undergo peer counselling and consult a doctor for other ailments was floated, the NMP+ was elated.
"This is our own office space," says Pardeshi excitedly pointing to six different sections that has PLHA's working under various projects at slums in Pune. The NMP+ purchases medicines at subsidised rates from local company Emcure Pharmaceuticals and sells it at half the market rate.
According to the pharmacist at TAAL, the PLHA should get a doctor's prescription as at times it has been found that several prescriptions are from doctors who do not have MBBS degree. "Then we send the patient to the National AIDS Research Institute to get a proper examination," she says.
People from various walks of life come to buy these medicines - from Karnataka, Beed, Ratnagiri, Aurangabad and Yavatmal. "At times even people who are on the waiting list at the anti-retroviral treatment centre at full-fledged hospitals like Sassoon Hospital come to our pharmacy," says Pardeshi.
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