Ayurveda, a Sanskrit word means “life-knowledge”; which is a system of traditional medicine native to Indian subcontinent and a form of alternative medicine from times of Suśhruta & Charaka. Ayurvedic practitioners developed a number of medicinal preparations and surgical procedures for the treatment of various ailments in the medieval period. Current practices derived from Ayurvedic medicine are regarded as part of complementary and alternative medicine.
Prevention services for HIV-STI through operationalization of Integrated counseling and Testing Centre [ICTC] facilities for HIV counseling and testing at Regional Ayurvedic Hospital Paprola, later supplemented with services of Adolescent Reproductive sexual health (ARSH) cum STI clinic termed as “Yuva Pramarsh Kendra”, is the only instance of counseling services being provided successfully in the area of ayurveda health services. Paprola is located 125 km from Pathankot in north India in a rural setting and caters to four districts of Hamirpur, Kangra, Mandi and Chamba.
Dr. V. Kaul, nodal officer of the Center stated that the key programme elements and activities of the ICTC are broadly counseling, testing, maintaining records and reports, referral and linkages, outreach and information, education, communication activities (IEC) and administration and management. Elaborating on the functions he added that:
1. Counseling functions consist of pre-counseling to motivate patient for voluntary testing and obtain consent, record establishment/maintenance of the patient, condom demonstration for prevention, discussion on life skills. This is followed by blood sampling and testing, reporting and post-test counseling. HIV counseling and testing services are the key entry points for prevention of HIV infection, and for treatment and care of people who are infected with HIV.
2. Referral/ Linkages include ensuring that positive clients reach ART, community care center, implementation of TB HIV intensified package, and that patients get OPD consultation for medical needs and different tests free and follow up services along with tracking of the same.
3. Outreach and IEC activities consists of home visits, awareness camps (including blood donation, family planning and spacing camps), visit to Red Ribbon Clubs and their coordination in the zone, condom distribution outside of ICTC, mainstreaming activities of 24 x 7 facility, integrated ICTC units, processing financial aid to children affected by HIV/AIDS in a client friendly manner with confidential protection systems in places. The services delivered in an ICTC are also publicized through allied departments like ICDS, rural development and NGOs so as to generate adequate demand for services.
4. Administration and management functions include procurement, store maintenance, indenting, PEP management, quality control of reagents and laboratory standards (quarterly samples sent to SRL and IGMC labs), reporting, condom supply, waste segregation and medical waste management.
By counseling adolescents, Dr. Kaul said, we are able to address the psychological problems of adolescents and provide adolescent friendly reproductive health services (ARSH-Yuva Pramarsh Kendra-Yuva Mitra Kendra) in hospital. An attempt is also made to address the issues of adolescent and youth during visit to Red Ribbon Clubs of colleges.
Good management practices, with a vision, team building and motivation, self-monitoring through use of wall charts and checklists on assigned tasks has led to timely reporting and achievement to programme goals.
As a consequence of the successful team effort, RAH Paprola was adjudged as best ICTC in Himachal Pradesh, on World AIDS Day 2012 at Shimla. The utilization of these services are over ten thousand since inception.
This year on International Women Day the ICTC team was awarded once again for providing best ARSH services to the needy youth. Now the services are being further strengthened with focus on quality and it is envisaged to develop it as center of excellence. The challenges ahead include building capacity of counselor on mental health issues, and drug de-addiction.
Dr. Kaul has been proactive in dispelling the myths and misconceptions associated with HIV through folk media, as nodal person of the district support team and provides supportive supervision and facilitation services for the campaign.
The center is a pioneer in innovation and leading the HIV prevention revolution.