As global fund donors pull out from India’s next AIDS control programme (2012-2017), the chief of the coveted Gates Foundation-led Avahan project Wednesday said the country is capable of taking the programme ahead through domestic funding. ”Avahan had long ago taken the task of reaching out to highly vulnerable communities affected by HIV-AIDS in India. But now, over a transition phase, the Indian government will take it on its shoulders,” said Ashok Alexander, Director of Avahan’s country office here.
The Gates Foundation has spent around $358 million on AIDS control programmes in the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharasthra, Nagaland and Manipur. ”This transition would happen till early 2014. At some point, the government had to take responsibly for the crucial AIDS programmes,” Alexander added. In the transition phase, the funding of the Technical Support Units (TSUs) in the states will be done by the government. National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) will be relying heavily on domestic funding for HIV that affects around 2.5 million in the country.
NACO was recently pulled up by the Standing Committee for lapses in dispensation of HIV drugs. Serious questions are also being asked about the proposal to merge NACO with the National Rural Health Mission.