India scraps funding ties with Gates Foundation on immunisation | Reuters

By Aditya Kalra | NEW DELHI NEW DELHI A group backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that works on India's immunisation programmes will now be funded by the health ministry, a government official said, a move in part prompted by fears foreign donors could influence policy making.The decision is seen as part of India's broader clampdown on non-governmental organisations to assert control over decision making in key policy areas. Last year, India ordered the dismissal of dozens of foreign-funded health experts working on public welfare schemes.The Gates Foundation has for years funded the Immunization Technical Support Unit (ITSU), which provides strategy and monitoring advice for New Delhi's massive immunisation programme that covers about 27 million infants each year.It will now be funded by the government which felt there was a need to completely manage the crucial programme on its own, senior health ministry official Soumya Swaminathan told Reuters.'There was a perception that an external agency is funding it, so there could be influence,' Swaminathan said on Wednesday. Swaminathan, however, stressed there were no instances of influence found and the decision was only in part prompted by a wider perception about foreign funding of the programme

Reuters February 08, 2017 16:18:07 IST
India scraps funding ties with Gates Foundation on immunisation
| Reuters

India scraps funding ties with Gates Foundation on immunisation
 Reuters

By Aditya Kalra
| NEW DELHI

NEW DELHI A group backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that works on India's immunisation programmes will now be funded by the health ministry, a government official said, a move in part prompted by fears foreign donors could influence policy making.The decision is seen as part of India's broader clampdown on non-governmental organisations to assert control over decision making in key policy areas. Last year, India ordered the dismissal of dozens of foreign-funded health experts working on public welfare schemes.The Gates Foundation has for years funded the Immunization Technical Support Unit (ITSU), which provides strategy and monitoring advice for New Delhi's massive immunisation programme that covers about 27 million infants each year.It will now be funded by the government which felt there was a need to completely manage the crucial programme on its own, senior health ministry official Soumya Swaminathan told Reuters."There was a perception that an external agency is funding it, so there could be influence," Swaminathan said on Wednesday.

Swaminathan, however, stressed there were no instances of influence found and the decision was only in part prompted by a wider perception about foreign funding of the programme. The unit will continue to exist, she said.A spokeswoman for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) said its grant for the ITSU ends this month. "We are in advanced stages of discussion with the ministry on the contours of the next phase of technical support," she said.

Critics have in the past raised concerns the BMGF should not have any association with the programme due to apparent conflicts of interest. That's because BMGF also backs GAVI, a global vaccine alliance that counts big pharmaceutical companies as its partners.India's immunisation programme vaccinates children to shield them from life-threatening conditions such as measles and polio, and is viewed by experts as crucial for improving public health.A key win has been the successful eradication of polio, but more than a million Indian children still die every year before reaching the age of five.

"The government must ensure that universal immunisation does not suffer in any way," said Keshav Desiraju, a former federal health secretary.BMGF, the charity funded by the personal wealth of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, has enjoyed good relations with the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Reporting by Aditya Kalra; Editing by Douglas Busvine)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

Guinea president 'captured', govt dissolved, claim army putschists'; attack on presidential palace repulsed, say authorities
World

Guinea president 'captured', govt dissolved, claim army putschists'; attack on presidential palace repulsed, say authorities

Reports suggest that they captured President Alpha Conde and dissolved the government, bust the ground situation remains unclear

Cryptocurrency prices tumble and exchange trading falters as snags crop up
News & Analysis

Cryptocurrency prices tumble and exchange trading falters as snags crop up

NEW YORK (Reuters) -The price of cryptocurrencies plunged and crypto trading was delayed on Tuesday, a day in which El Salvador ran into snags as the first country to adopt bitcoin as legal tender. Shares of blockchain-related firms also fell as crypto stocks were hit by trading platform outages. But the major focus was on El Salvador, where the government had to temporarily unplug a digital wallet to cope with demand.

Ford poaches Apple's car project chief Doug Field
News & Analysis

Ford poaches Apple's car project chief Doug Field

By Joseph White and Sanjana Shivdas (Reuters) -The head of Apple Inc's car project, Doug Field, is going to work for Ford Motor Co to lead the automaker's advanced technology and embedded systems efforts, a hiring coup for Ford Chief Executive Jim Farley.