ARTC and CSC: Two sides of a single coin

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I joined Alliance India in July as Technical Associate: Monitoring and Evaluation. One of my core responsibility as a data person is to validate numbers and figures presented by state teams and visiting implementing partners to assess impact.

This was going to be my first review visit post my joining, I was part of the team visiting partners in state. As planned, the first day of the visit was marked for interacting with the state team. Following exchange of greetings, the review commenced and the team progressed by presenting their innovations, number of lives they touched, families they got tested for HIV and linked with Antiretroviral Therapy Centre (ARTC).

As per our review plan, the second-day of our visit was scheduled to meet Prerana Care and Support Centre (CSC) team and the Senior Medical Officer (SMO) of the ARTC. The CSC was 55 kilometers away from the city, owing to heavy rainfall and flooded streets we decided to travel by local rail to save time and to enjoy the picturesque surroundings. After travelling for two hours we reached the CSC. After a round of introductions, we started talking to the CSC team on how they manage their work and my monitoring soul started scanning their documents to verify what they were saying. I found few documents differing from the prescribed guidelines and requested the Programme Co-ordinator to rearrange them. Once I was convinced with the staff’s understanding on documentation, I moved forward and joined my team who were interacting with the Outreach Workers (ORWs), the backbone of Vihaan programme. The ORWs with spark in their eyes were explaining their case load, how they plan their visits, whom they give priority to and how they feed the data in their tablets. Time elapsed faster than I thought, I signaled my team that we have to visit the ARTC also as per our plan.

On reaching the centre, the first thing that caught my attention was the well-maintained closed cabins which were perfect for providing counselling to people coming to the centre. We waited outside as the SMO was examining clients. After few minutes, he came outside and talked about the functioning of the centre. We informed him that the current phase was coming to an end and that we are taking this opportunity as a learning experience for the next phase. His reaction and reply was something which I will remember my entire life, he said, “ARTC system could not function without the support from Vihaan.” It instilled a deep sense of pride within me and towards the organisation I am associated with. Prior my association with Alliance India, I was closely involved with Vihaan in my previous capacity also, I have been associated with Vihaan for the last three and a half years. He asked us how we plan to include and further support the ORWs in the field in the next phase. He added, ORWs face considerable difficulties in bringing back LFU and stressed the importance of their role in bringing positive changes in the lives of PLHIV. We interacted with other staff of the ARTC and thereafter thanked the staff and the SMO for their valuable time and feedback.

On my way back, the words and praises heaped by the SMO kept echoing in my head. His concern for the ORWs and charting out responsibilities for their field work clearly indicated how both ARTC and CSC are working as one unit throughout the country.

Gunjan Pandey is associated with India HIV/AIDS Alliance as Technical Officer: Monitoring and Evaluation.

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