State awaits ombudsman  to hear out HIV patients

Mumbai: To ease the woes of people suffering from the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the state government was supposed to appoint at least one ombudsman to hear the pleas of violation for HIV patients.

A senior official said the new law comes under the purview of Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention And Control) Act, 2017, which is yet to be implemented in the state.

The Act was supposed to be implemented in 2017, when it was made compulsory for the state government to appoint at least one or more ombudsman to bring legal accountability and formulate a mechanism to inquire into the complaints of HIV patients.

The new law reads, “The Ombudsman shall, upon a complaint made by any person, inquire into the violations of the provisions of this Act, in relation to acts of discrimination mentioned in Section 3 and providing of healthcare services by any person, in such manner as may be prescribed by the State Government.”

The senior official said the law also states the ombudsman needs to pass an order within 30 days of getting a complaint. If the complaint deals with medical emergency, it would have to provide the verdict in 24 hours.

According to the Act, the Ombudsman would have to submit its report to the state government after every six months about the total number and nature of complaints it received.

The reports are also supposed to be published on the ombudsman’s website. Dr IS Gilada, consultant in HIV/STDs and President, AIDS Society of India (ASI) said the main aim to bring in the law was to fast track the cases and give justice to HIV patients.

But, it is learnt that the state government failed to do so. “An independent body like an ombudsman can play a major role in protecting the rights of HIV patients, who have been harassed and humiliated when society or neighbours get to know they have HIV,” said Dr Gilada.

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