Africa eyes India’s winning plan to fight AIDSJuly 30th, 2012 - 11:58 am ICT by IANS
Washington, July 30 (IANS) A highly successful AIDS prevention programme launched in India by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has evoked great interest in Africa where over two thirds of people with the deadly disease live.
“There is so much demand for these learnings in Africa,” Alkesh Wadhwani, head of the foundation’s India programmes, told IANS.
“Multiple countries visit us and seek all the tools and techniques we use to scale up their programme with sex workers,” said Wadhwani who was here to attend the just concluded International AIDS Conference.
In just one year, official teams have come to visit the foundation from seven eight African countries, including Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. Surprisingly, even Thailand, which pioneered such initiatives with a very successful programme in the 1990s, visited.
“The irony is that when we started in 2003, we went to Thailand to learn how to launch these programmes,” Wadhwani said.
At a cross learning session between Africa and India at the AIDS conference, four African nations which had seen the Indian programme effectively conveyed that they were looking at how they can scale up their programmes in quality and intensity by following the Indian model.
As part of its concept of country ownership of programme, the Gates Foundation has over the last three years gradually transferred the AIDS programme to the Government of India and it has since been integrated with the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP).
Called Avahan, the Gates Foundation initiative has over the last nine years invested $338 million to support targeted HIV prevention programmes in the six Indian states and 600 towns with the highest HIV prevalence, and along the nation’s major trucking routes.
“The biggest success for us is that the four states that account for 70 percent of all infections in India were able to bring down the incidence by over 75 percent over three years we were there,” said Wadhwani.
The incidence in general population has come down from 1.5 percent to 0.3 percent. “The beauty is you can bring it down without working with anyone in the general population, by only focusing on sex workers,” he said.
The Foundation continues to play a key role in building and strengthening the community of sex workers, who actually ran half of its programmes before they were handed over to the government.
“It’s a very tough thing to do because the community of sex workers is largely non-literate and carries a lot of stigma,” said Wadhwani. “So it does not take naturally for most people to say that these people take the lead in running the programme.”
The Gates Foundation’s strategy has been actually to focus on Africa, where the bulk of infections are, he said. Now that it has had a measure of success in India, “we are intensifying the effort to transfer these learning to Africa.”
The AIDS programme is no longer called Avahan in India, but it’s the Avahan model of running programmes that serve the groups that are most vulnerable to HIV infection, that the foundation is transferring to Africa.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at email@example.com)
–Indo-Asian News Service
- India's winning plan to fight AIDS holds hope for Africa (Lead) - Jul 30, 2012
- HIV project saved 100,000 in India from infection: Study - Oct 11, 2011
- India undeterred by global donors' pullout for AIDS control (Dec 1 is World AIDS Day) - Nov 30, 2011
- 'Domestic funding enough to take AIDS programme ahead' - May 09, 2012
- Community groups meet for AIDS control in north India - Jun 14, 2011
- Bring transparency in AIDS programme: Civil society - May 17, 2011
- 'Community feedback must in India's AIDS programme' - May 05, 2011
- Need more resources for HIV-AIDS programme, Azad tells PM - Jul 04, 2011
- Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to focus on drugs, vaccine research - Mar 24, 2011
- Gates praises India for containing polio - May 31, 2012
- Delhi turns HIV scanner on massage parlours - May 05, 2011
- 50 pc drop in HIV cases in India in 10 years: UN - Nov 23, 2010
- 'NACO merger with NRHM not insensitive' - Apr 27, 2012
- Indian MPs, US think tank discuss policy issues - Jul 06, 2012
- 'India's AIDS control mission a successful model' - Feb 06, 2012
Tags: african countries, african nations, aids control, aids prevention, cote d ivoire, deadly disease, foundation initiative, four states, government of india, hiv prevalence, hiv prevention, indian model, indian states, international aids conference, learnings, melinda gates foundation, national aids, nine years, sex workers, wadhwani