Gates Foundation pulling out of India

Foundation chairman Bill Gates, who will receive the Indira Gandhi Peace Prize on behalf of his organisation, will discuss the transition plans with Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Friday.

The software czar, who runs one of the world’s richest philanthropic organisations, has awarded more than USD 100 million for the transition, which will be completed by the year 2014.

This means over the next five years, Avahan, the Indian arm of the BGMF for HIV/AIDS campaign, will withdraw from the existing projects, which may be handed over to the voluntary organisations of the government.

However, neither the health ministry nor NACO has publicly accepted taking up the Avahan projects.

Also it is not clear how the transition to the NGOs will happen.

While the government control over foreign-funded HIV/AIDS campaigns were relaxed in the first half of the National AIDS Control Programme, more government controls were brought in NACP III, which was launched in 2007.

“India is the first country where transition will happen,” the BGMF spokesperson Penny Richards confirmed to Deccan Herald.

Avahan was set up in 2003 and for the last years, it was one of the major fund providers for the HIV/AIDS programme.

The BGMF so far has spent nearly US$ 258 million on HIV/AIDS interventions in six high-prevalence states, including Karnataka.

On Thursday, Gates committed another US$ 80 million for Avahan, taking the total funding on HIV/AIDS to $338 million.

As of July 2009, the foundation has committed nearly one billion dollars on health and development projects in India.

However, the outcome of these projects is unknown and questions are being raised about the means they adopted to reach out to their target audience.

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