Separate hospital wards for transgenders soon to be a reality

Friendly attitudes and responsive services by hospital staff help transgenders be comfortable and open about their health concerns to care providers. Photograph shows a visit by a transgender community member to a clinic in Andhra Pradesh
(Photo © Peter Caton for India HIV/AIDS Alliance)

In India, there is documented evidence of transgenders and hijras facing repeated stigmatisation and discrimination, in violation of their dignity and basic human rights. Pehchan, as part of the programme’s advocacy efforts to raise awareness and achieve equality for these communities, organised a sensitization workshop in collaboration with its CBO partner Sakha for the staff of the government-run Capital Hospital in Odisha on the problems faced by transgender community members seeking medical treatment. Simran Shaikh, Alliance India Programme Officer for Pehchan, gave an orientation to the participants on the lives of transgendered people.

Following the training, participants noted their appreciation and increased understanding. “It was nice to know the expectations and problems transgenders are facing while seeking medical treatment,” said a nurse who joined the session. Sudahsha Dash, the Chief Medical Officer of Capital Hospital, who was the chief guest at this occasion, proposed efforts to create a separate ward for transgender patients: “We would soon request the government to form a separate ward for the transgenders and sexual minorities here.”

This workshop received wide attention from various quarters and positive reports in the media. To read the press coverage, click here.

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With support from the Global Fund, Pehchan builds the capacity of 200 community-based organisations (CBOs) for men who have sex with men (MSM), transgenders and hijras in 17 states in India to be more effective partners in the government’s HIV prevention programme. By supporting the development of strong CBOs, Pehchan will address some of the capacity gaps that have often prevented CBOs from receiving government funding for much-needed HIV programming. Named Pehchan which in Hindi means ‘identity’, ‘recognition’ or ‘acknowledgement,’ this programme is implemented by India HIV/AIDS Alliance in consortium with Humsafar Trust, SAATHII, Sangama, and SIAAP and will reach 453,750 MSM, transgenders and hijras by 2015. It is the Global Fund’s largest single-country grant to date focused on the HIV response for vulnerable sexual minorities.

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