Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi Inaugurates
Amritakripa AIDS Hospice & Care Centre
On 25 September 2003, the hospice was inaugurated in the presence of Amma by Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi, India’s Honourable Union Minister for Human Resource Development. Shri. T.N. Chathurvedi, His Excellency the Governor of Karnataka, and Smt. K.R. Gouri, Kerala’s Minister of Agriculture were also present when Dr. Joshi unveiled the buildings cornerstone.
In 2003, there were an estimated 70,000 to 100,000 HIV carriers in Kerala. It is predicted that by 2008, that number could as much as double. Despite these alarming statistics, prior to Amma’s 50th birthday, there were no specialty hospitals in Kerala to deal with the epidemic, and only three rehabilitation centres. It was this sorrowful situation that prompted Amma to start an Amritakripa AIDS Hospice and Care Centre near Trivandrum, the state’s capital.
“We are fortunate enough to live in a century when a divine personality like Amma is moving about in the globe,” said Dr. Joshi in his inauguratory speech. “Divinity is manifested in the person of Amma. The Indian concept of Jagadamba [Mother of the world]—this is what Amma embodies.”
Dr. Joshi then took the opportunity to mention that, through its charitable services, the Mata Amritanandamayi Math was providing all the basic necessities for the poor—covering health, housing, hunger and education. “While the governments lag behind in providing these facilities, Amma has worked wonders,” said the minister. “Amma’s service to the entire humanity is fast expanding, and it is wholehearted and selfless. She expects nothing in return. Divinity Herself has come to help humanity. With the starting of this hospice, She is now taking care of AIDS patients.” He concluded his speech by saying that Amma is determined to remove all kinds of suffering.
The problems of HIV carriers in India are acute. Since the medicine that delays the onset of AIDS cost Rs. 5,000 per month, only the very wealthy can afford proper treatment. Even HIV carriers who can afford proper care find it difficult to obtain, because when they inform hospitals they are HIV positive, they are often sent away.
Because most AIDS patients want to remain in their homes as they cope with and treat their disease, the Mata Amritanandamayi Math has decided one of the main focuses of the Care Home will be outpatient facilities and education for the patients’ families. If necessary, doctors and nurses will also visit patients in their homes, providing, among other service, pain and palliative care. The poorest patients, with nobody to care for them and who would otherwise be beggars on the street, will be given priority access to the Care Centre and free treatment.
Patients will be referred from the Kerala State AIDS Control Board. Initially, the Centre will house 50 residents, with plans to expand so that it can offer solace to as many others as possible in the near future.