Focus: Health, Women

THE clamour about HIV may have stopped but the suffering of those affected continues - especially in rural India where health facilities are poor and social taboos are harsh. This is where Samraksha come in.

Serving the most vulnerable in villages throughout Karnataka, Samraksha (who previously operated as part of the organisation Samuha) have worked over the last 20+ years to strengthen the ability of people affected by HIV to live with dignity and respect, free of pain.

A pioneer in the field, they provide palliative care services to reduce all dimensions of pain and suffering of people living with HIV and their families.

When truck driver Shivanna, from Koppal, for instance, was admitted to the centre at age 35, he was already critically ill with advanced tuberculosis in addition to HIV.

However, with persistent treatment and assistance from Samraksha, he recovered from his ailments, but continued to be depressed as he was estranged from his family. With the help of a counsellor Shivanna has also dealt with his emotional pain - and even reunited with his family and regained hope. He now volunteers at Samraksha.

A critical part of palliative care is to reach out to groups who are especially vulnerable – widowed women and children from HIV affected families. The key intervention is building resilience in them so that they can manage the negative consequences of HIV on their lives.

Samraksha Board Secretary Sanghamitra Iyengar explains what she thinks their most important contribution is: “I believe that living without pain is a basic human right. The alleviation of pain and suffering – in all its dimensions: physical, social, psychological, emotional, and spiritual – has formed the bulk of our work.”

The results display their progress – 13,151 people benefitted in different ways from Samraksha’s care services in 2016-17. Their two-decade long engagement in over 1,200 villages has resulted in a vibrant and cohesive response, where community-based organisations are providing much needed psychosocial support to affected families.

It is thanks to the dedicated work of organisations like Samraksha that HIV prevalence has reduced in the country, with a decrease in the number of new infections and fatalities.

But with two million people living with HIV and Karnataka being one of the most highly affected states, your support will help Samraksha grow their resources.

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Asha Jyoti

PEOPLE living with HIV and their families suffer physical, as well as psychosocial and spiritual pain. Asha Jyoti, Samraksha's flagship programme, is a palliative care centre which seeks to address all these different kinds of pain. A team of doctors, nurses and counsellors work to help patients overcome a period of acute illness and regain a level of functionality, or reduce pain and suffering for those in the terminal stages of the disease.

Building Resilience in Adolescents

IN HIV-affected households, adjustment issues often manifest themselves in adolescents, whether or not they have HIV. Growing up without parental support and supervision, they bear the brunt of the socio-economic impact of HIV on their families. In Koppal district of North Karnataka, Samraksha work with adolescents to build resilience in them through a range of psychosocial interventions through counselling, therapeutic group work, as well as educational guidance and support.

About Samraksha

My parents are taking services from Asha Jyoti for the last three years. They did not have major health problems but then suddenly, my father’s health worsened. There is someone to help day and night. Now he has recovered completely.

Hanumappa, family member of Asha Jyoti patient, Koppal

I was very sick for some time. My parents took me to different hospitals, but it did not help. Finally we were sent to Asha Jyoti. Now my health has improved and my family members are also treating me well. They have understood about my condition.

Shivamma, patient at Asha Jyoti, Koppal

ICICI Bank acknowledges the tireless and selfless efforts in palliative care being provided by Samraksha Trust... Very few NGOs work in this space and Samraksha Trust’s commitment and professional approach is commendable.

Joachim Colaco, ICICI Bank, Mumbai

  • Sulekha K. Director
  • Sanghamitra Iyengar Managing Trustee