The Sankalp Drop-in-Centre (DIC) in Mumbai provides Oral Substitution Therapy, treatment for HIV and other opportunistic infections, and counselling to about 70 street-based and marginalised individuals who use drugs daily. Outreach workers also provide services at specific hotspots for new clients. The lockdown to contain COVID-19 shut access to services for these clients, which would increase drug-resistance as well as cause more individuals to relapse to drug use. The loss of jobs and the closure of health facilities meant they also faced limited access to food and healthcare.
Sankalp resolved to continue services during the pandemic.
We advocated with government and police to permit re-opening the centre; this was first initiated weekly and later daily. Passes issued by local government enabled staff travel. Opioid Substitution Therapy (OST) was given for a week, instead of daily. For clients who could not reach the clinic, ART was home-delivered. Using an ambulance, the needle-syringe exchange program continued as well as other care such as abscess management. Patients with Hep C were initiated to access free treatment at government centres, which was also restarted through advocacy efforts. Telecounselling, such as through Zoom, ensured continued psychosocial support. We also distributed masks and soaps to clients and the community. Social distancing was ensured at the drop-in centre. Coordination with other NGOs ensured that regular meals were provided to clients at the drop-in centre.
For more information, contact the author: Eldred Tellis, https://www.facebook.com/SankalpRehabilitationTrust/
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