In India we are currently working on a four-year project funded by the Commonwealth Foundation entitled “Family Caregiving and Public Policy in India: Creating New Opportunities for Recognition and Support”. As part of this project, we are establishing State Level Carers Forums (SLCF), one in each of the following four states – Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand and Odisha.
SLCFs will bring together representatives from organisations who work in a variety of health-related sectors such as: HIV/AIDS, mental illness, elderly, terminal illnesses, and any other groups who require significant amounts of care. Other stakeholders invited to SLCFs will include corporate partners, academic partners, and government representatives.
The overall purpose of SLCFs will be:
- To promote the recognition of the existence and role of family carers
- To raise the voice of carers and promote their inclusion
- To develop a state level strategy framework for promoting and protecting the rights of carers
On Thursday 25 July, the first ever SLCF meeting was held in Karnataka. It was attended by representatives from various health NGOs working areas including mental health and disability; the Commissioner of Disability for the Government of Karnataka; our academic partner NIMHANS, and Dell Corporation as our CSR partner.
The first meeting was a great success with all participants stating how much they loved the concept behind the SLCF. There was unanimous recognition that carers are under-represented and left behind in project planning and public policy. Now the stakeholders are determined to do something about this issue and want to be part of the carer’s movement so there can be long-term support and income for carers. Stakeholders have agreed to meet quarterly and will encourage local government to launch carer friendly schemes and projects.
We are delighted with the enthusiasm that has been shown in the first SLCF and hope to replicate this through the establishment of SLCFs in the other states. Follow our Facebook page to find out about future SLCF meetings and actions as they happen.