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Gates Foundation announces second tranche of grants

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, MARCH 15. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation today announced the second tranche of grants, amounting to $47 millions (Rs. 216 crores), for projects under its anti-AIDS initiative in India.

The grants, covering Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Manipur and Nagaland, are being provided through non-governmental organisations. While the Voluntary Health Services is being given $13 millions (Rs.60 crores) for undertaking projects in 16 districts of Tamil Nadu, which have a high prevalence of HIV infection, two international NGOs, Family Health International and Pathfinder are being provided $10.5 millions (Rs. 48 crores) and $8.5 millions (Rs. 39 crores) respectively for taking up projects in Mumbai, Thane and 10 other districts in Maharashtra.

The Population Services International is being given $10 millions (Rs. 48 crores) for upgrading and providing new facilities for treatment of sexually transmitted infections in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, and the Australian International Health Institute $5 millions (Rs. 23 crores) for providing HIV prevention services for intravenous drug users and other vulnerable population in Manipur and Nagaland.

Today's announcement brings the total fund provided by the foundation for India to $114.5 millions (Rs. 526 crores). The earlier tranche, announced in October, covered projects in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

Rajat Gupta, co-chairperson of the foundation's anti-AIDS initiative in India, told presspersons that the next round of assistance would be announced in the next few months.

The Foundation was committed to providing an assistance totalling $200 millions under the initiative called `Avahan' (Sanskrit for clarion call or call to action).

Asked as to why the Foundation preferred to provide the grants to international NGOs instead of Indian ones, Mr. Gupta said that there was no element of partiality.

The aim was to ensure that the Foundation did not have to deal with too many agencies, considering that it did not have a large manpower base.

The NGOs identified would operate in collaboration with the local NGOs.

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