India's foot-dragging delays $100 million AIDS grant
BY Advocate.com Editors
December 18 2003 1:00 AM ET
Bureaucratic foot-dragging and other government roadblocks have delayed the disbursement of a $100 million grant to India to help fight the spread of HIV, the Times of India reports. One sticking point is that the grant, awarded last January by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, will be disbursed in quarterly installments based on performance of the programs funded with the money, and Indian government officials prefer to receive all of the money in advance. "We cannot accept an agreement where there is no predictability of funds," said Meenakshi Dutta Ghosh, director of India's National AIDS Control Organization.
AIDS experts say the longer Indian government officials wait to accept the grant and begin using it to prevent and treat HIV infections, the more people will die of AIDS-related complications or become infected with the virus. "The discussion has been very, very protracted. We regret this, and we find it disappointing because we are aware of the urgency to expand HIV prevention and treatment in India," said Richard Feachem, executive director of the global fund. "The board always has the option to decide that the money can be used elsewhere if the accepting and signing process is taking so long."