Friday, May 30, 2003
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By Sridhar Krishnaswami
The current HIV/AIDS situation in India will, over a period of time, "present a threat to the social fabric of India" and the U.S. wants to extend its hand of "partnership to help confront" the threat, Dr. Chow told The Hindu. He was speaking about HIV/AIDS in the context of the President, George W. Bush's latest initiative, which tripled the American commitment to fight the scourge. The underlying message was that even if Mr. Bush's latest initiative was confined to the sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean, there was going to be no let-up in this administration's global programmes. Mr. Bush has allocated $ 10 billions of additional funds for HIV/AIDS programmes with $ 1 billion earmarked for the Global Fund.
One of the issues that Mr. Bush will be raising in a very serious and high profile fashion at the summit of the Group of Eight in France next month will be on the ways that the industrialised world will have to take on the challenge of the disease.
In the context of the U.S. initiatives in India, Dr. Chow said the anticipation right now would be to double the $ 63 millions that is being spent in dealing with the malaise over the next five years, with the active involvement of the Agency for International Development and the Department of Health and Human Services. He also pointed out that the USAID had been working for several years now in Tamil Nadu, where there was a "high degree of cooperation''.
With this also came the judgment that "more needs to be done and more can be done," he remarked. "Our framework approach... of three pillars has been supported by a foundation'', he said, going on to say that the pillars would be public health strategies, mobilising of the civil society and ensuring the commitment of political leaders especially in "de-stigmatising" the environment. The Foundation, of course, would provide the commitment for the resources.
Dr. Chow, who is also the Special Representative of the Secretary of State for Global HIV/AIDS, said that the United States was keen to work with India with a view to increase the "opportunity space" and jointly accelerate the efforts in "quantity, quality and intensity".
He will be in India at the beginning of July to participate in Global Issues Forum, a visit that will hopefully take him to places other than New Delhi such as Chennai.
Dr. Chow said the U.S. would like to adapt its strategies within India to local needs, cultures and values so that there can be a "strong understanding of how society works and how we can put together a strategy that can break the transmission cycle...in a way that is culturally sensitive and culturally appropriate", given the "richness and the diversity of the cultures within India".
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