India scraps funding ties with Gates Foundation on immunization
A group backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that works on India’s immunization program 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 organizations 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 immunization program 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 program 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 program. The unit will continue to exist, she said.
- Health Care