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    » 12/01/2009, 00.00

    INDIA

    World AIDS Day: Indian Catholics at the forefront in the care for the sick

    Nirmala Carvalho

    About 80% of centres that deal with HIV is run by the Catholic Church. 140 institutes across the country, for the treatment of disease and improvement in quality of life. More than one million children orphaned by HIV, discriminated against at school and abandoned by their family.

    New Delhi (AsiaNews) - Marginalization, lack of medical care and discrimination: HIV in India affects millions of people, both adults and children. On the occasion of World AIDS Day, celebrated today the first of December, the Indian Catholic Church reaffirms its commitment to combating the virus, promoting a "compassionate" approach which also aims to improve quality of life.

    Almost 80% of centres that deal with HIV in India is run by the Catholic Church, which has founded some 140 institutions around the country. To date, the Catholic Health Association of India (Chai) has formed about 4 thousand people, including physicians and paramedical personnel. Together with five university hospitals, the network of Catholic institutions has spread to even more remote areas to provide assistance to as many people as possible.  

    Bishop Percival Fernandez, president of the National St. John Academy of Medical Sciences, emphasizes the importance of a "human" approach to the sick, victims in many cases of exclusion. "There are documented incidents – he states - of children discriminated in schools. We encourage educators to show special attention to the smallest, with an approach to teaching compassion". The prelate adds that the medical and paramedical staff is attentive also to tackle cases of “depression or psychological problems" associated with the disease, trying to instill a "sense of hope" for HIV sufferers.

    Pascoal Carvalho, a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, remembers that "millions of Indians and hundreds of thousands of children are living with AIDS and HIV." The government treats them as if they were "invisible" and fail to implement policies that address the problem.  

    Although there are no accurate figures, it is estimated that "more than one million children under 15 years in India have lost one or both parents as suffering from AIDS and" the number is growing. " The most dramatic cases of discrimination affecting children of prostitutes, street children and dalits.

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    See also

    10/02/2010 VIETNAM
    Ho Chi Minh City, the Vietnamese Church opens a center for HIV-positive children
    The Mai Tam Warm Shelter, opened at the beginning of 2010, accommodates up to 60 patients, who have contracted the virus from their parents. The youngest is six months, the oldest 16. A centre wanted by a centre Card. Pham Minh Man, who in 2004 initiated activities for the sick.

    10/05/2010 INDIA
    Census of castes underway, a hope for Dalit Christians
    The Church and human rights organizations support the tremendous task of collecting data that is beginning in the country. The government "will be forced to open their eyes to the reality of caste discrimination, and do something to resolve the situation."

    13/10/2005 INDIA
    US Congress set to scrutinize anti-Dalit discrimination

    Catholic campaigner: "This is a historic moment in our struggle against the caste system". American congressman: "Converts to Christianity and Christian missionaries are particularly targeted in violence which often goes unpunished".



    23/03/2005 INDIA
    Indian Bishop wants help for Christian and Muslim Dalits penalised by corruption
    Mgr Oswald Gracias, the newly-elected President of the Catholic Conference of Bishops, and sociologist SM Michael ask the government to take concrete steps to protect minorities against Hindutva and 'human weaknesses', i.e. corruption in public service.

    30/11/2005 INDIA – WORLD AIDS DAY
    Indian Church to keep its promises in the fight against AIDS
    The Bishops' Conference pledges support for medical staff training, providing care to the rural poor and fighting AIDS-related discrimination.



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