In 1958, eminent physician and scholar Dr. K. S. Sanjivi, influenced by the Gandhian philosophy “Unto the Last”, founded Voluntary Health Services (VHS) in the Indian city of Chennai.
VHS aims to provide health care services to the poorest of the poor and facilitate universal access at an adequate level, paying special attention to marginalised children, women disabled people, the aged and the needy.
Through its project Tamil Nadu AIDS Initiative (TAI), Voluntary Health Services has worked extensively over the past decade on assisting the development and sustainability of communities including transgender people, Kothis, sex workers and other community-based organisations.
VHS recently contracted with United Nations Development Programme Asia-Pacific Regional Centre to join the Multi-Country South Asia Global Fund HIV Programme (MSA).
Under the programme, VHS aims to:
- Improve the delivery of HIV-related services for MSM and transgender people across South Asia;
- Improve the policy environment with regard to MSM, TG and HIV-related issues across South Asia, and
- Improve strategic knowledge on MSM, TG and HIV-related issues.
“The (VHS) hospital has a history of being a pioneer in implementing HIV/AIDS prevention and control services for two decades,” said Voluntary Health Services Deputy Director Dr. Arumugam Vijayaraman.
“The best practices of our projects are of interest to many scholars, civil societies, and government departments from different countries, and the experiences are getting replicated worldwide.”
VHS’ immediate priorities under the MSA programme are to sensitise government and key stakeholders, law enforcement agencies and judicial members to issues affecting transgender and Hijra people on HIV and human rights.