This is influenced by a number of socio-economic factors, such as poverty, illiteracy, migration, gender discrimination, urbanisation and more.
The communities considered most at risk to HIV/AIDS — Women in sex work, marginalised gay men and transgender people live in social and financial hardship and are vulnerable to violence and abuse — sexual, physical and emotional every day. This affects their ability to take key measures and absorb social behaviour change solutions to address key issues of health and well being and break the cycle of poverty and violence.
It is recognised that the population infected and affected by HIV and AIDS have needs beyond HIV prevention and treatment services.
People Living with HIV (PLHIV) face job insecurity, poor access to health care facilities, low access to nutritional support and education for children. In addition, HIV-related social stigma and discrimination diminish their access to work and medical treatment and also lowers their self-esteem to an extent that even seeking government entitlements appear to be a difficult exercise.
Children affected by HIV/AIDS (CABA) are often prevented from benefiting essential health care, education and other social welfare services by their families or larger communities. Girls orphaned by HIV live in a state of multiple vulnerabilities.
In India’s response to HIV, focused actions of mainstreaming and partnership lead to multi-sectoral response for risk reduction, integration of services and social and legal protection services for the communities.
Social and legal protection services ensure entitlements and benefits that apply to the communities — most of whom are below poverty level. It includes access to rights and entitlements which may be in areas spanning nutrition, healthcare, shelter, health insurance, legal aid, travel support, pension and so on.
Moreover, the offering social protection services functions as an avenue to ensure the essential partnerships within Government departments to identify and advocate for amendment/ adaptation of policies and schemes for the betterment of the marginalised communities in particular and the greater society as a whole.
In view of the strategic importance of social protection, the Single Window Model for Social Protection was led by the District AIDS Prevention and Control Unit (DAPCU).
“Single window” refers to a single access point to avail the information on various social protection schemes and submit the application for social protection.
Envisaged to improve the accessibility of entitlements and schemes by the HIV infected and affected communities, the “Single Window model for Social Protection” intends to facilitate entitlements and schemes provided by the State and Central Government to all eligible vulnerable groups for the most-at-risk population (MARPs), People living with HIV (PLHIV) and Children Affected by AIDS (CABA).
At the district (province) level, the DAPCU Officer ensures that vulnerable groups are fully assisted in providing information on various entitlements and schemes, in filling the application through various help desks. The DAPCU officer plays an important role in submitting the filled in application to various departments, follow-up and its implementation.
In the DAPCU-led model, the various service centres under the NACP at the district like TI NGO, LWS, ICTC, ART, Link ART, etc. act as help desks to facilitate social protection. The DAPCU office acts as the apex body in the district to facilitate social entitlements and social protection.
The DAPCU directly advocates with the district administration through the District Commissioner with various departments (including legal services) in making necessary changes in various schemes to address the needs of PLHIV, CABA and MARPs. DAPCU will collect filled in applications from all help desks.
The bunch of applications is reviewed by the DAPCU and then submitted to the concerned departments with a covering letter. The follow up with respective departments for clearance of application and receipt of benefits is undertaken by DAPCU with the support of the counsellors in the service centres.
How does the DAPCU led Single Window Model for Social Protection help?
- The DAPCU led single-window approach reduces the barriers in availing the information on social protection schemes by PLHIV, CABA and MARPs
- Ensures quick access to schemes and facilitates filling up of application for benefits
- Improves advocacy with the concerned department and helps in follow-up on the applications filed
- Sustains monitoring of the social protection upscale
Swasti Health Catalyst, a nonprofit headquartered in Bangalore in Karnataka, piloted 3 models to deliver social protection services to marginalised communities — the DAPCU led Single Window Model, a Network Model and an NGO led Model in 2011.A springboard for innovative solutions, Swasti subsequently shared its takeaways which have since helped shape the approach of social protection for vulnerable communities. Swasti’s implementation of the DAPCU led Single Window Model, was supported by Karnataka State AIDS Prevention Society (KSAPS), NACO -Department of AIDS Control (DAC) and United Nations Development Programme.
Key takeaways from Swasti’s implementation of the Single Window Model:
- The DAPCU led model of intervention would facilitate quick access to schemes and help build rapport with other Government Departments.
- Working through CBOs and NGOs will build capacities to facilitate social protection programme and help in institutionalising the capacities at the local level.
- Aggregation of demand for social protection through a single window will help to advocate with concerned departments better and help in follow-up on the applications filed.
- Under the leadership of DAPCU, accessing other official platforms becomes convenient and helps in positioning social protection as a subject in the discourse. Ongoing platforms such as Targeted Intervention-NGO coordination meetings, review meeting of the ICTC and TI counsellors, meetings with District Collector etc aids in furthering advocacy goals for the betterment of the marginalised communities.
- DAPCU led model will provide opportunity for sustained monitoring of Social Protection agenda of NGOs and CBOs. This also ensures that appropriate systems and capacities are built at all levels including at the level of DAPCU
- Scaling-up and replication of the social protection intervention become easy under DAPCU led model.
- Drawing from sectoral and implementation learnings, in 2014, Swasti established learning centres in Bangalore for the Single Window Model, facilitated by community organisations, trusts and networks and supported by the initiatives for S2S (South to South) by United Nations Development Program.
- South-South and triangular cooperation are bold, innovative, and growing means to strengthen cooperation for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, the global plan of action for people, planet and prosperity to eradicate poverty.
The facilitating organisations were community organisations for women in sex work and sexual minorities — Swathi Mahila Sangha and Samara Charitable Trust; and PLHIV networks Karnataka Network of Positive People+, Arunodoy Institute for Positive people+, Institute for Youth Development for Injecting Drug Users.
The learning centres catered to implementors, advisors, community organisations, non profits and researchers alike, and added significant value to the prevention of HIV/AIDS programme in India.
As for the communities, that social protection benefitted, here is the story of a member from Swathi Mahila Sangha —
When B_____ was diagnosed with TB and then HIV, she got a network of support at SMS who introduced her to many government schemes. She says, “The usual notion is that all these schemes…don’t really provide economic support. But I was surprised to get a ration card within three months of my application. I had become very weak in the last two years because of TB, and this 1 ltr oil, 1 kg sugar/dal /rice, that I get under the Ration card became a saviour when I had to stop working…”. For vulnerable communities, social protection is a life saviour and looking back, we are glad we have been part of the story since the very beginning.