Kohima: Health activists on Monday urged the state government to fast track the appointment of an Ombudsman for HIV/AIDS as per Rules 3 and 4 of the Nagaland State HIV Rules.
In a letter addressed to the Secretary of Justice and Law department, the KRIPA Foundation requested the same through its Director Abou Mere.
The Kripa Foundation drew the attention of the government regarding the Nagaland Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) (Ombudsman and Legal Proceeding) Rule 2019, notified by the Nagaland government.
It referred to the notification dated March 3, 2020, that read “in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 49 read with Sections 23, 24 and 25 of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Act 2017, by the Governor of Nagaland is pleased to notify the Nagaland Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Ombudsman and legal proceeding) Rule 2019, with immediate effect.”
The letter said that the Nagaland State HIV Rules also stated to: “provide for the appointment, terms and conditions, qualifications and manner of inquiry by the Ombudsman” and that the appointment of an Ombudsman is the first step towards operationalising the implementation of the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Act, 2017 and the rules in the Nagaland.
As per the rules, the state government shall appoint an Ombudsman—a retired district and session judge, or anyone who has a minimum of ten 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,” it added.
Therefore, the health NGO called for urgent attention and necessary action as per Rules 3 and 4 of the Nagaland State HIV Rules.
It said that the appointment of a qualified and independent Ombudsman under the HIV Act would go a long way in preventing stigma, discrimination, exploitation and an environment of fear experienced by People Living with HIV (PLHIVs) in Nagaland.
The Ombudsman’s appointment would 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 requested the Law and Justice Department to appoint a full-time Ombudsman to protect PLHIVs with an independent, objective and neutral judgment.
In this regard, it appealed to the competent authority to give an open advertisement immediately to fast track the appointment of the Ombudsman under section 23 of the HIV Act read with Rules 3 and 4 of the Nagaland State HIV Rules in the State.
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