India is the second most most populated country in the world, home to over one billion people. Despite dramatic economic growth in recent years, more than 400 million Indians live on less than $1 a day. Trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty, too many families live in dire circumstances, and many children are forced to work instead of attend school. India is struggling to eradicate preventable diseases such as polio and an estimated 2.5 million Indians are living with HIV/AIDS.
PCI established its presence in India in 1997. Currently, PCI-India operates in ten states and two union territories of the vast subcontinent with a focus on impoverished, vulnerable populations, in particular, people living with HIV/AIDS, women of reproductive age and at-risk children.
According to the World Health Organization, India is one of four countries worldwide endemic for polio, meaning they have never successfully stopped transmission of the wild polio virus throughout the entire country. While most of India is polio-free, persistent pockets of transmission remain in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in northern India. As a lead partner of the CORE Group Polio Project, PCI is building enhanced community awareness and mobilization to increase participation in prevention and immunization interventions in three high-prevalence districts in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. PCI recruits and trains community mobilization coordinators, assists in organizing and facilitating health camps where vaccines are provided by the Government of India as well as promote hygienic practices to reduce new infections, especially in children under 5 years of age. The health camps also including malaria prevention, vitamin A supplementation, de-worming treatment, and provide access to physicians, nurses, and auxiliary nurse midwives, thus offering a more holistic approach to improving the health outcomes of vulnerable communities.
PCI’s polio prevention and immunization promotion efforts in the district of Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh (est. population 166 million), contributed to the outcome of no new polio cases (both Type 1 and 3) in the district in all of 2010, the first time wild polio transmission has ever been interrupted in Moradabad.
Home to one sixth of the world’s population, India reports a growing number of HIV cases each year. As more people learn their status and seek treatment, the need for quality laboratory technical services grows. Since September 2009, PCI has been implementing Project PRATIBHA (Project for Accelerated Technical Assistance and Integrated Capacity Building for HIV/AIDS), which aims to provide technical assistance to India’s National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) to strengthen the capacity of the network of public laboratories, including 13 National Reference Laboratories (NRLs) and 117 State Reference Laboratories (SRLs) to deliver cost-effective quality services. The four focus areas for laboratory strengthening are: (1) technical capacity development, (2) managerial and operational capacity development, (3) availability of adequate human resources and (4) availability and maintenance of equipment. Further, based on the scores obtained by individual laboratory, an action plan has been developed by NACO for accreditation of laboratories with National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL).
Over the past decade, PCI/India has managed and implemented approximately 30 programs that expand HIV/AIDS prevention and care and support among high-risk groups and their families in urban and peri-urban slums, as well as build and strengthen the networks of PLHIV at the local, state and national levels. Specifically, between 2003 and 2009, PCI in partnership with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), built and managed the most extensive and comprehensive HIV community and home-based care (CHBC) program in the country, delivering services to an estimated 6,000 direct beneficiaries annually in 5 high-prevalence states.
In 2005, PCI started its first microfinance institution, Planned Social Concern (PSC), with seed capital from the Grameen Trust of Bangladesh and investment capital from a group of private donors known as the Jaipur Investors. PSC provides people living in poverty, particularly rural women, small loans to assist them in starting their own businesses and participates in their professional capacity building. With two branches in Jaipur, PSC has become a sustainable, pro-poor bank that has provided more than 10,000 loans to women entrepreneurs valued at over $2,300,000.
In partnership with Qualcomm Wireless Reach, Village Phone Operators have proven that there is a clear path out of the cycle of poverty. The core concept is simple and effective: a local entrepreneur in a rural community without telecommunications services acquires a micro-loan through two established PCI self-help groups. The entrepreneur then purchases a village phone kit (that includes a telephone, antenna, power source, signage and related marketing materials) and service plan and then retails the “minutes” to her friends, neighbors and the public generating numerous positive returns at multiple levels.
MATERNAL, CHILD AND COMMUNITY HEALTH
PCI is addressing the disparities in maternal and newborn health within urban slum communities in the southern city of Pune. PCI is providing access to prenatal and postpartum services for pregnant women and new mothers, and improving access to a wide array of physiological, social, education, and economic empowerment services. In addition, through outreach efforts such as health fairs, festivals and support groups, PCI is strengthening the link between slum communities and formal, institutional health facilities, as well as raising awareness of the positive behaviors that affect the health of mothers and children, such as proper pre-natal care, breastfeeding, and child immunizations. Self-help groups consisting of mothers as well as some men, all from the beneficiary communities, work to sustain the program activities and advocate with local government clinics and hospitals for access to quality and accurate reproductive, maternal and child health services.
ORPHANS AND VULNERABLE CHILDREN
UNICEF estimates that approximately 25 million children in India under the age of 17 years are either orphaned or living on the streets. In the capital city of New Delhi alone, there are an estimated 100,000 orphans and vulnerable children working and living on the streets and in the city’s train and bus stations, increasing their risk of exploitation and physical and sexual abuse. In response, PCI/India provides a range of empowering interventions and support to at-risk children through drop-in centers in the communities of New Seemapuri and Red Fort in Delhi. The centers serve as hubs for children living and/or working on the streets and a network of outreach workers provide critical services such as counseling and treatment, nutrition education, health and psycho-social support, vocational and life-skills training, and family reunification services. Special emphasis is given to vulnerable, adolescent girls, who often have fewer opportunities than boys to complete their education or learn a vocational skill. Additional drop in centers and a shelter home for boys are also maintained in rural areas near Dehli.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The United States Agency for International Development, Americares, Baxter International Foundation, Boeing Corporation, PATH, Qualcomm Corporation, Street Kids International, Suzlon Corporation, Tarsadia Foundation, World Vision and various other private donors.