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World Charity: (Part 3 of 4): Gates, AIDS and India

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  • Rajesh Vargheese, Austin, TX
    World Charity: (Part 3 of 4): Gates, AIDS and India [Continuation of 4 part series on World Charity: Part 1 (ICON digest 1853), Part 2 (ICON digest 1855)]
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 28, 2006
      World Charity: (Part 3 of 4): Gates, AIDS and India

      [Continuation of 4 part series on World Charity: Part 1 (ICON digest
      1853), Part 2 (ICON digest 1855)]

      There are times when we take much pride and happiness in being first
      or second. For example: to be first in the exams. Where as, there
      are other times, when we do not want to be named first or second.
      For example: a country that is ranked first or second in the number
      of AIDS patients.

      Unfortunately, India has the second largest number of HIV infected
      people in the world. At this time, the largest number of HIV
      infected people is in South Africa. One in eight people infected
      with HIV in the world resides in India and it accounts to ~5 million
      (50 lakhs) people. Just in 2003, half a million new cases were
      added. With a billion in population, a small increase in the
      infection rates can result in large number of new infections.

      There are 6 states (Manipur, Nagaland, Andhra Pradesh, TamilNadu,
      Karnataka and Maharashtra) that are very badly affected, with
      HIV/AIDS prevalence rates greater than 1%.

      The Government of India has taken measures to contain the spread of
      this epidemic. It launched a National AIDS Control Program in 1987.
      Later in 1992, National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), was
      established with major support from the World Bank. Two phases were
      planned with Phase I spanning from 1992-1999 and Phase II spanning
      from 1999-2006. The Indian Government has marked to spend 196 crore
      INR (~$45 million) for Phase II of the National AIDS Program.

      The point here is that, this funding (plus other donors) is very low
      compared to what is really needed to get ahead of the problem.
      (Estimates suggests $1B a year) This is where we need to hold hands
      together and work towards preventing the spread of AIDS. We need to
      welcome help from all corners and benefit from each others work.

      In Part 2, we saw how Bill Gates has influenced the world charity
      arena. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) spend 60% of its
      spending on Global health. One of its main focuses is on the fight
      against the spread of HIV/AIDS.

      Avahan, is a project launched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
      (BMGF) to focus on the fight to prevent the spread of HIV in India.
      Avahan, a Sanskrit word maps to a meaning 'call to action' in
      English. This word emphasizes the need of the hour. Large-scale
      prevention and other interventions today can help to avert a major
      epidemic in the future.

      The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has committed $200 million
      (about ~860 crores INR) through its Avahan Initiative. Avahan's
      prevention programs are focused on those most at risk of contracting
      and spreading HIV, in the six highest-prevalence states. Avahan
      empowers the local organizations in the area of communication and
      awareness, behavioral change, community mobilization, treatment,
      research and impact measurement. Avahan's Advisory Board includes
      some of India's foremost government officials, business, and
      community leaders and thus enables it to leverage the best of all
      worlds. The BMGF has done an incredible job in India in enabling the
      fight against AIDS.

      Where do we see Dayabhavan, Kunigal in this big picture? (More in
      Part 4)

      If India does not act together at this time, it's just a matter of
      time when we will be the first in the world with regards to the AIDS
      epidemic, something we do not want to take much pride in.

      (To be continued...)

      Part 4: Connecting Seattle and Kunigal

      Rajesh Vargheese,
      St. Gregorios Orthodox Church, Austin, TX
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