NEW DELHI, India, February 9 /PRNewswire/ --
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and AHF/India Cares today announced its strong support for a Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) call for an independent inquiry into allegations made by the World Bank (WB) concerning the second phase of National AIDS Control Programme (NACO) projects implemented throughout India. The NACO projects and efforts in question have been supported in part by these two international donors. AIDS Healthcare Foundation will also request that Manmohan Singh, the honorable Prime Minister of India, and who is also the Chair of National AIDS Council (NAC), the highest authority to address HIV AIDS in India, takes cognizance of these allegations and use his influence to help weed out corruption at NACO in an effort to restore faith in the government AIDS system, which has been failing the people of India.
"Like the Global Fund, AHF is very concerned by the corruption allegations made by the World Bank, which has greater ramifications for future resource allocations in the fight against the epidemic in India and globally," said Dr. Chinkholal Thangsing, Chief, Asia Pacific Bureau, AIDS Healthcare Foundation based in New Delhi. Dr. Thangsing also expressed disappointment with the slow action by the World Bank, stating, "Sadly the World Bank has remained a silent spectator for all these years when similar corruption allegations were first reported as early as 2005." He added, "The World Bank should invest in good governance and greater involvement and participation of civil society organizations in the government programs. This is crucial and would significantly check and help fight corruption of all forms and at different levels within the Indian healthcare system."
"We were shocked and appalled at the manner in which the corruption has surfaced in the NACO health programs meant to save lives of millions. I worry that large donors such as the World Bank and the Global Fund took too long to wake up to the rampant corruption within NACO and the State AIDS Control Society (SACS) and will now be forced to take action," Terri Ford, AHF's Director of Global Advocacy, currently deployed in India, expressing concern about the continued corruption and the possible cut off of global funds to fight AIDS. "The mother in need of treatment in India is going to be the one who suffers from this corruption and its exposure -- not the bureaucrats. AHF encourages the abolition of inherent corruption, but we also are here to advocate for clients and patients who need the services the World Bank and the Global Fund support. It is time for zero tolerance on corruption in HIV/AIDS care in India -- something that is long overdue."