The Union health ministry has proposed increasing funding of anti-AIDS/HIV programmes more than five times to a record Rs 11,585 crore, supported by the World Bank, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other agencies. The funds are to be spent over the next five years for prevention, care, support and treatment of the disease.
The National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), the nodel agency for HIV, will administer the spending under the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) III. Scheduled to start from April 1, the programme has got an in-principle approval from the Planning Commission. About three quarters of the programme will be funded by the World Bank. “UNDP, UNAIDS, ILO, Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, USAID and World Food Programme will be providing assistance too,” said a NACO official, declining to be identified.
The government has hiked allocation to care, support and treatment of HIV infected, to roughly a third — roughly Rs 3,667 crore. The remaining two-thirds of the allocation will be on spreading AIDS awareness.
AIDS activists said the expansion of funding to fight HIV was welcome but were unhappy with the monies set aside for treatment. "A lot remains to be done for the care and treatment of the HIV-positive people," said Nivedita Dasgupta, director of Delhi-headquartered Modicare Foundation.
The second phase of the AIDS control programme, NACP II, had an allocation of Rs 2,065 crore and had spent merely 18-20% on the care and treatment aspect. "There is sufficient awareness about this disease in certain HIV high prevalence states and we need to focus on the needs of those who have already contracted the disease in such areas," added a second NACO official, who too requested anonymity.
In NACP III, six states with high prevalence of HIV—Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Manipur and Nagaland—will continue to be the focus but district-level fine tuning will be done to ensure that HIV-infected districts elsewhere are not missed out. The funding is adequate for five years, stated Jacob John, advocacy officer of the Indian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS but the government should provide expensive drugs in second stage treatment as well.