May 092012
Gates Foundation

Microsoft founder Bill Gates will stop funding programmes aimed at controlling HIV/AIDS in India by 2013 and hand over the project to the government, a decade after his eponymous foundation agreed to pitch in to support the cause of those affected by the disease

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has funded AIDS prevention programmes in India for the last ten years, will soon wind up its work with HIV-positive people in the country and hand over the responsibility to the government, Ashok Alexander, the foundation`s country director, said here today.

“We can`t fund the programmes forever. It is always better to hand over the responsibility to the government and the community. We have already started withdrawing from a lot of programmes,” Alexander said.

On when the foundation would completely stop the funds, Alexander cited June 2013 as the deadline.

“However, we would continue providing technical assistance to the government till early 2014,” he said.

Although it is learnt that the Union Health Ministry is keen on the Foundation continuing its support for various HIV/AIDS programmes, the Microsoft founder had made it clear last year itself that there would be no more large funding by his Foundation.

“The programmes we funded over the last decade has been a tremendous success without doubt but we have reached a point when we have to step back and give the responsibility to the government,” Alexander said.

In 2003, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation launched Avahan, an initiative to check the spread of HIV in India, with a commitment of USD 200 million, which was subsequently increased.

In 2009, Avahan entered into a MoU with National AIDS Control Organisation, marking the beginning of the transfer of its projects to NACO and other partners.

Avahan`s work with the HIV-affected spanned six states – four in the south and two in the north-east – covering 80 districts, 200 towns and over 2,00,000 people.

“The battle against AIDS has not been won yet. We still have a long way to go. It is not about the amount of money you put in but the way you effect changes,” Alexander quipped.