03 March 2003
Mumbai, India – On his first visit to India as the Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, Prof. Richard G A Feachem met today with Mr. Digvijay Khanvilkar, Minister of Health for Maharashtra, and members of the NGO Community in India at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai. He will meet with the Prime Minister and the Union Minister of Health Sushma Swaraj later during the week in Delhi.
Speaking to Mr. Khanvilkar, Feachem affirmed: “The Global Fund is committed to providing additional resources to innovative programs that are country-led and partnership-driven, and which demonstrate results.” The Fund has made a total allocation of USD 140 million in two rounds of funding to India for HIV and TB prevention and control.
“India needs to scale up its efforts to contain the HIV pandemic it faces, or else go the way that much of Africa has gone. There is an imperative in Asia to avert the disaster that has befallen Africa. To do that, India needs to focus on prevention, which costs money and requires forthright action. The Global Fund is prepared to provide the right money in the right way to the right programs to do that”, he said at the meeting with the NGO’s. “The responsibility for the success of this money depends on the ability of Civil Society and Government to use it effectively to reach populations in need and prevent the spread of HIV.”
Regarding the mechanism on which the Fund depends for funding proposals, he said: “The fund supports comprehensive approaches to fight AIDS, TB and malaria – that means prevention and treatment, government and NGOs. But the Fund is very passive: we do not help create proposals. We are a financing mechanism that receives proposals that are made by countries.” The Fund receives proposals from countries through Country Coordination Mechanisms (CCM’s), which must represent government and non-governmental actors.
During the course of his visit, Feachem will be meeting with the representatives of Industry and Bollywood in order to involve these sectors actively in the fight against AIDS, TB and malaria. “I hope to be able to raise the issue of involvement in the fight against AIDS, TB and malaria with all the people that I am meeting with during this visit”, Prof. Feachem said. “They must meet this challenge together.”
In addition to encouraging India to make good use of donor money, Feachem stressed that India should make greater investments of its own, to AIDS, TB and malaria, and to public health more broadly. “India can and must demonstrate a greater commitment to put more of its own money into health. The current health policy promises a doubling by 2010, but the recently tabled Union Budget makes no increase at all.”