Times of India
17 September 2010
By Dhananjay Mahapatra
New Delhi, India
No Second–Line ART For Those Treated At Private Hospitals
Claiming that India has a low prevalence of AIDS with 99.69% population uninfected by the disease, the Centre has reduced the HIV–related budget by Rs 100 crore, from Rs 1,030.87 crore in 2008–09 to Rs 924.1 crore in 2009–10.
Informing the Supreme Court in an affidavit about this decision, the National AIDS Control Organisation (Naco) said that the low prevalence of HIV has also prompted the government to focus more on preventing new infections in high–risk groups and general population rather than on care and treatment of the existing patients. In the year 2008–09, a total of Rs 1,030.87 crore was spent on HIV–related activities out of which Rs 239.59 crore (23.3%) was used on Care, Support and Treatment (CST). In 2009–10, of a total of Rs 924.1 crore, the expenses incurred on account of CST was Rs 254.79 crore (23.6%), Naco said.
The lowering of the budget was due to reduction in grants from the Global Fund for Care, Support and Treatment (GFCST). It said: "Naco had submitted a proposal of $530 million to GFCST. However, of these, only $420 million have been approved for the period of six years (April 2010 to March 2016). The entire CST budget is funded by grants received from the Global Fund.”
With resources limited by fund crunch, Naco said that it was focussing more on giving first–line Anti–Retroviral (ART) treatment than the second–line ART needed for a small number of serious patients.
Refusing second–line ART to patients who had got their first line treatment from private hospitals, Naco said: "The government has been of the considered view that the immediate priority must be the expansion and strengthening of first–line treatment. In case of HIV treatment, for the cost of one second–line ART, six patients can be put on first–line ART and 25 persons can be treated for tuberculosis.”
Giving hope to lakhs of patients, Naco said if the first–line treatment was properly administered, then a person can be kept on the same treatment for 8 to 10 years.
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