Arjun Paleri and Jaya Ramachandran
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare published the Model Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome Policy for Establishments, 2022 (“Model Policy”) on 13th May, 2022. This Policy has been issued under the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Act, 2017 and related rules (“Act”), and provides guiding principles that establishments must adopt and implement.
Key Highlights of the Model Policy and its adoption:
Applicability: The Model Policy needs to be adopted by all establishments that have carried out production, supply or distribution of goods or services for a period of twelve months or more.
Guiding Principles for Establishments: Establishments must adopt and implement the following guiding principles using the mechanisms and processes specified in the Model Policy.
non-discrimination against people infected with and affected by HIV and AIDS,
confidentiality related to a person’s HIV status and related data; and
establishing a grievance redressal mechanism in the form of a Complaints Officer.
Confidentiality: The Model Policy imposes strict obligations on the establishment and the Complaints Officer to adopt data management policies and establish data management committees where the establishment collects HIV-related data.
Communication of the Policy: The policy created by the establishment in accordance with the Act and Model Policy must be notified and communicated to all persons working in the establishment in the manner prescribed.
Grievance Redressal Mechanism: Establishments with 100 or more staff must appoint a Complaints Officer to handle any grievances under the policy and appoint additional Complaints Officer for each office of such establishment having 100 or more staff. The Model Policy also imposes certain obligations on the Complaints Officer such as publishing annual reports, filing half yearly action reports to the appropriate authorities, etc.
State-level Ombudsman: The Model Policy requires every State Government to appoint a state-level Ombudsman who will take care of all complaints made under the act.
Training: It is mandatory to conduct annual workshops and awareness programmes for all employees and orientation programmes for Complaints Officer(s).
Things to consider
Organisations must have in place a HIV and AIDS policy incorporating the guiding principles and mandatory practices from the Model Policy, and communicate it in the manner prescribed.
Organisations must ascertain whether the requirement of having Complaints Officer(s) is applicable to them and action this requirement accordingly.
Ensure necessary trainings are conducted for employees and Complaints Officer(s) on an annual basis.