India promised to “extend all support and cooperation in sharing its knowledge and expertise in developing shared frameworks of cooperation and means of implementation” said the ministry.
India, on Friday, committed all possible help to African nations in their fight to ends HIV and AIDS, by the year 2030. Minister for Health and Family Welfare, JP Nadda met the heads of African states on the sidelines of the India-Africa Forum Summit, in an interaction organised by the central health ministry, partnering with UNAIDS, in New DelhiIndia promised to “extend all support and cooperation in sharing its knowledge and expertise in developing shared frameworks of cooperation and means of implementation” said the ministry.According to the ministry the push for this joint “cooperation-framework” came from Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya. The meeting was attended by Deputy Chairperson, African Union Commission Erastus Mwencha, Shripad Yesso Naik, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for AYUSH — reflecting the ministry’s growing interest in bringing alternative medicinal practices into traditional allopathic domains — Michel Sidibe, Executive Director, UNAIDS and representative Ministers from Malawi, Uganda, Rwanda and Togo.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India’s commitment is significant as most of the generic antiretroviral (ART) drugs available in African nations are manufactured in India. Thus, there was focus on “commodity security for medicines”, in which context India said that it had undertaken a “comprehensive” survey of 47,800 drug sample sizes to weed out low quality and spurious products, and was strengthening its own regulatory structures to maintain drug quality.”There was a general sense of this being the starting point of further cooperation between the two sides,” said Oussama Tawil, country director in India for UNAIDS, to dna. “The objective was to ensure medicines for all those who need them, and these discussions have to be taken up further by the African union and the Indian government. They also have to involve private pharmaceutical companies.”Tawil added that this could not be a relationship that only benefited one side, and in that light the African countries were aware they needed to build a capacity to manufacture their own drugs, so as to bring the equation with India on an equal platform. “That is the long term plan,” he said.In the spirit of this being a give and take relationship, Nadda too gave credit to “success stories of South Africa in making ART available to its people and its Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission (PPTCT) programme” which India could emulate. He also said that India was applying “Malawi’s B+ strategy in India to ensure that no child is born with HIV and all children have access to treatment”.However, there are concerns about India’s capacity to help other nations’ with AIDS control, when it’s own National AIDS Control Programme has suffered visibly from budget cuts. According to media reports throughout 2015, cuts in funding and changes in decision making structures have interrupted the flow of ART drugs to government run treatment centres, putting those living with HIV, and dependant on state help at great health risks. Many centres ran completely out of drugs, disrupting ongoing treatments of patients.However, according to Tawil, the current situation in India could be looked at as on in “transition”. “There are changes in funding and in decision making structures. There is a cut back, but that doesn’t mean that funds aren’t there,” he said. “The significance of a meeting like this is bring a realisation also in India about the importance of pharmaceutical companies and generics. WE’re trying to highlight this, so that it is applied in India as well as in African countries.”