TODAY -

NGOs urge for FIDUs night shelter
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, May 31 2020: Several NGOs have urged both NACO and MACS to open night shelters for female injecting drug users (FIDUs).

They opined that opening night shelters for FIDUs would go a long way in checking spread of HIV and Hepatitis C apart from reducing different risks faced by FIDUs.

Under the Targeted Intervention (TI) project, several harm reduction programmes are being implemented for injecting drug users including females but FIDUs need special care and approach as 47 per cent of them suffer from depression, 55 from anxiety and 35 from suicidal tendency.

Moreover, most of FIDUs are homeless and they have been ostracised by their own families.

TI projects are being implemented by Nirvana Foundation in Imphal East, Meetei Leimarol Shinnaisang in Imphal West, New Generation at Moreh and PPO in Churachandpur.

Each TI project has a target of taking care of 150 FIDUs.

One functionary of FIDU said that PPO has been taking care of 165 FIDUs, above the target of 150 .

Of the 165 FIDUs, 14 are HIV positive and they have been taking ART drugs while 29 others are under OST.

Although most of them are between 30 and 35 years, a few of them are as young as 13/14.As most of them have been staying in hotels or rented rooms, they have been facing untold misery on account of the protracted COVID-19 lockdown.

Now, they have been facing difficulties in finding places of accommodation.

This difficulty was there even before the lockdown but it has grown more acute following the lockdown, said the NGO volunteer adding that they have been urging NACO and MACS to open night shelters for the FIDUs.

There have been cases of some FIDUs found dead on streets and drains at Churachandpur district headquarters due to absence of night shelter, he said.

A spokesperson of Meetei Leimarol Shinnaisang which runs a TI project in Imphal West said that they have been taking care of 178 FIDUs.

The spokesperson too said that FIDUs need night shelters very badly.

Considering their sheer necessity for night shelters, a night shelter was opened for FIDUs in Imphal West district in May 2012 without any assistance from the Government.

While monthly rents, electricity bills, cooking gas and water are taken care of by the NGO, clients cook their own food at their expense, said the spokesperson.

However, since the beginning of the lockdown, the NGOs has been taking care of their foods too.

NACO officials once visited the night shelter and appreciated the NGO's efforts but neither NACO nor MACS has taken up any initiative till date towards opening night shelters for FIDUs, decried the spokesperson.

One functionary of New Generation said that they have been providing TI services to over 200 FIDUs at Moreh.

Most of these FIDUs are aged between 23 and 35 and they have already abandoned their homes.

Before the lockdown, some of them slept in hotels while some others slept in supermarkets.

But today, they have been facing a very difficult situation as they have nowhere to go where they can sleep.

A spokesperson of Nirvana Foundation said that they have been providing TI services to 177 FIDUs.

Taking due note of the need for night shelters, Family Health International (FHI) 360 provided night shelter facility to 30 FIDUs from August 2018 to March 2020.Even though the FHI's project has already expired, Nirvana Foundation has been providing night shelter facility to the FIDUs till date.

Following the lockdown, the NGOs has been providing residential care to the FIDUs during daytime too, said the spokesperson.

Of all the FIDUs taken care of by Nirvana Foundation, 30 are under OST, five have completed Hepatitis C treatment and nine are under Hepatitis C treatment.

Notably, SASO implemented a project christened 'Chanurakon' from June 2010 to May 2013 under which FIDUs were provided night shelter as well as stay-home facilities.

But after the termination of the project, FIDUs were left to their earlier miserable condition as the State did not bother to launch any such project, said some FIDUs.


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