TODAY -

No room for red tapism
(Issue in MACS is Non-Issue)

Seram Neken *



Manipur State AIDS Control Society, Imphal, Manipur



In order to ensure effective implementation of HIV/AIDS prevention and control services in Manipur, the State Government needs to hunt for an experienced medical professional with sincerity, commitment, integrity and administrative skill who is competent to hold the post of Project Director of Manipur State AIDS Control Society.

The Project Director is the team leader whose responsibilities include preparing action plan, it's submission to NACO, bring in funds from NACO, programme implementation, financial control, administration of staff, submission of physical and financial utilization certificates to NACO, advocacy of HIV programmes to the political leaders, bureaucrats as well as to the people etc.etc.

Assigning the leadership of MACS to generalist IAS officers who are busy enough in handling other major works and frequent change of Project Directors of MACS hamper the smooth implementation of this national programme in Manipur.


HIV goes swift. HIV does not sleep. If we have to wage a fierce battle against HIV, we need to be equally swift and active. We need to be awake. The authority needs to accelerate the pace of AIDS related files from table to table, from office to office. Red tapism has no place in HIV programme. By delaying the service extension of employees and by holding back the due remunerations of staff, the state government has created an artificial crisis which in turn affects the millions of already affected human lives.

"Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star…….. Baa Baa Black Sheep……Rain Rain Go Away….." Small children very nicely recite these rhymes in schools. But most of them do not know the meaning. Because it's only from their mouths, not from the depth of hearts that they sing the rhymes. Political leaders deliver beautiful speeches on the occasion of various observances.

Their oratory excellence makes them appear as if they are really concerned in the theme of the observance. However, in reality most of the leaders just read out the write-ups prepared by subordinate officers. The comments made in those speeches go to the air at random. The promises remain only in paper. The invaluable theme of the observance meets its futile end only on banners and backdrops.

World AIDS Day is an annual event observed on the first December every year with an important theme. "AIDS is alarming in Manipur; role of media is great; political commitment should be priority; streamlining the AIDS service organizations is government's concern; human rights and dignity of people living with HIV; Care for AIDS patients; adherence to ART drug; … etc. etc" are frequently mentioned sentences and phrases in the speeches of dignitaries on World AIDS Day.

Unfortunately, these utterances are only ceremonial, not acted upon. HIV and AIDS control programme in Manipur has failed in various aspects. It is clearly evident from the cease-work strike by employees of MACS to the extent of halting provision of ART drugs.

Why is the state government delaying extension of service for the contractual staff of MACS ? If the authority is satisfied with the performance of the employees, it may well effect their service extension in time in order to maintain continuity of programme implementation. If the authority feels dissatisfied with the performance of a staff member, it may take befitting action against him or her.

It is apprehensive whether the authority is inviting bribes from the staff members by delaying justice or is the authority demonstrating neglect of this national programme. The Governing body under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister and the Executive committee headed by the Health Commissioner need to clarify the reason behind in the interests of thousands of HIV affected people of the state.

MACS is hundred percent funded by NACO. There is no state share of finances in programme implementation. Moreover, there is a national guideline laid down by NACO for payment of remunerations and maintenance of service conditions of staff. It is amazing that the due remunerations are not paid to the staff who are expected to do hectic works in the field. Why does the authority hold back the due remunerations of the staff of MACS ? Let them get their salaries commensurate with their huge tasks. Let them work up to the expectation in the interest of the HIV prevention programme.

As long as the MACS submits the physical and financial utilization certificates to the NACO in time, there will be continuity of programmes and smooth flow of funds. The state government has to supervise the works of MACS through its governing body and executive committee.

The Project Director is the team leader whose responsibilities include preparing action plan, it's submission to NACO, bring in funds from NACO, programme implementation, financial control, administration of staff, submission of physical and financial utilization certificates to NACO, advocacy of HIV programmes to the government as well as to the people etc. Hence, the Project Director of MACS should be a professional with technical expertise, administrative skill, experience, personal commitment, integrity and sincerity.

Otherwise, the HIV and AIDS prevention and control programme can not be effectively implemented in the state. In order to maintain continuity of programme, frequent change of the Project Director should be avoided.

The present issue in MACS is not an issue. It is a clear demonstration of government's lack of commitment and concern in the HIV scenario of the state. It appears that the state government is not aware of the impending menace of AIDS in this region. While available statistics claim cent percent HIV and AIDS awareness among the general public, our political leadership remains ignorant of the epidemic.

Let us activate the state government first in order to solve the mis-governance in MACS. We have many challenges ahead. The authority is slowing down the pace of HIV programme in Manipur, while the reality calls for a rapid stride in the response against AIDS epidemic.

The real problem is not in MACS, it is in the far flung villages of the state. Our priority should be the increasing number of HIV affected women and children and their rehabilitation, prevention of cross border HIV transmission and treatment of Hepatitis co-infection.




* Seram Neken wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao(English Edition) and The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on March 29 2012.


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