Losing out

India fails to get AIDS aid

Published: Saturday 31 July 2004

the us has charged India with lack of commitment in fighting aids while justifying its choice of Vietnam for its emergency hiv/aids assistance. Vietnam has now become the15th nation in the world to benefit from the us aid. It will receive us $8 million to us $10 million in the first year alone and more money subsequently, depending on the need. Apart from Vietnam, Cambodia and India were the other major contenders for the funds.

Vietnam was chosen over India for two reasons, according to a us embassy statement in New Delhi. It has shown more commitment in fighting the disease by spending an overall amount of us $36 per aids victim, as compared to the us $6 spent by India. Secondly, although India has a higher infection rate, Vietnam is considered to be "on the brink of a very explosive epidemic", with 130,000 people already infected by the virus and the number projected to reach 1 million by the end of the decade. On the other hand, India's growing economy would enable it to make trade-off decisions and channel funds for combating the disease, feel senior us officials. It was also suggested that India's denial of the degree of infection in the country and its hesitation in being identified as an aids-ridden nation were responsible for its loss.

The us decision has elicited a mixed response in India. Many experts point out that the aid would not really have helped the country as us funds come with many riders. But others like Samarjit Jana, assistant country director, care India, a non-governmental organisation working in various sectors including health, believe India would have benefited greatly from the aids assistance.

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