Rajahmundry: Andhra Pradesh State Aids Control Society (APSACS) has imposed a cut of between 10 per cent and 20 per cent in its quarterly budget released to six NGOs in East Godavari for allegedly failing to distribute condoms to some of the high-risk groups like sex workers, transgenders and MSMs as per target.
The APSACS released the third quarter budget for the months of October, November and December in 2018 to the NGOs identified as Bread, Changes, Wise, Creators, JKWS and SASS to the tune of Rs 24.67 lakh by imposing cut against the total amount of Rs 29.04 lakh.
An NGO identified as UETS, however, was lucky enough to get 100 per cent sanctioned share of the budget of Rs 4.53 lakh for the third quarter. In fact, East Godavari got sanction of budget of Rs 33.58 lakh for seven NGOs for third quarter but with the pruning of budget for six NGOs for poor performance, only Rs 29.21 lakh was released for the district.
The move will have a major impact on counsellors who work with NGOs for honorarium by getting a minimum of RS 13,000 to RS 16,000 per month as the heads of NGOs will impose cut on payment of honorarium to the counsellors to overcome the budget cut.
As per norms of National Aids Control Society and APSACS, counsellors working with NGOs are supposed to take up a series of activities involving high risk groups. The activities include: distribution of condoms as per demand and requirement, motivating them to visit clinics and undergo health check up and take medical treatment, mobilisation to undergo syphilis screening, linkage of high risk groups if found HIV/AIDS positive to anti-retroviral therapy, maintenance of regular contact with HRGs and others.
APSACS sent a letter to each NGO stating that its performance was analysed over the last two quarters from April to September, 2018a and found no improvement in their performance despite repeated reviews and accordingly gave a score of marks on the scale of 100 and awarded a grade like 'C' and 'B'. The letter mentioned about poor areas of performance and recommended steps for improvement. Referring to terms of memorandum of understanding, the letter justified on imposing the cut on budget release for the third quarter and cautioned that if the NGOs failed to initiate corrective measures in 30 days from receipt of such letters, its agreement with APSACS/NACO may be terminated.
Counsellors working with these NGOs express concern over the way their meagre sources of earnings in the form of honorarium are being cut for no fault of theirs. They say that they get wages once in three months and risk their lives to identify high risk groups and provide counselling to them to undergo various medical tests and take treatment and register for ART if tested HIV positive. They wonder as to why APSACS intends to target NGOs from East Godavari for poor performance while ignoring similar performance from other NGOs in the state.
APSACS joint director M. Chandra Sekhar Rao said, "We have imposed cut in budget release to six NGOs following their poor performance based on recommendation from the concerned district authorities and on direction from top brass....