Dimapur, April 26: The Kripa Foundation Nagaland, an NGO running intervention programmes for People Living with HIV and AIDS (PLHIVs), has requested the State Government to appoint “HIV and AIDS Ombudsman” immediately.
In a letter to the Principal Secretary for Justice and Law, the Foundation reminded that on March 3, 2020, the Governor of Nagaland had notified the Nagaland Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired immune Deficiency Syndrome (Ombudsman and Legal Proceeding) Rule 2019 with immediate effect, which provides for the appointment, terms and conditions, qualifications and manner of inquiry by the Ombudsman.
“Indisputably, the ‘appointment’ of an Ombudsman is the first step towards operationalising the implementation of the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Act, 2017 (hereinafter “HIV Act”) and the aforesaid rules in the State of Nagaland,” the letter read.
It stated that the State Government was required to appoint an Ombudsman (a retired District and Session Judge, or anyone who has minimum 10 years’ working experience having extensive knowledge in matters relating to public health or health delivery system, or a qualified healthcare provider who is a physician, or a person working in NGO with similar experience and knowledge) within 180 days of the date of notification.
“The timeline for appointing an Ombudsman is long overdue, thus the issue merits your urgent attention and necessary action as per Rules 3 and 4 of the Nagaland State HIV Rules. The appointment of a qualified and independent Ombudsman under the HIV Act will go a long way in preventing stigma, discrimination, exploitation and an environment of fear experienced by PLHIVs in Nagaland. It will also help achieve the laudable objective of the HIV Act, which is to ‘prevent and control the spread of the HIV epidemic and protect the human rights of persons affected by it’,” it added.
According to the Foundation, the Justice and Law Department has a moral and legal obligation to appoint a full-time Ombudsman to protect PLHIVs. It urged the department to give an open advertisement immediately to fast-track the appointment of the Ombudsman.
(Page News Service)