World Bank Announces Anti-AIDS Loan To India
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The World Bank announced Wednesday an $84 million loan to India for a program officials said could save 2 million people from the AIDS virus infection by the end of the decade.
The loan is the largest of its kind by the world lender, Heinz Vergin, the bank’s country director for India, said at a news conference.
He said that in the 1970s only 1 percent of bank lending went to human resources. Such loans made up 20 percent of lending last fiscal year, with emphasis on aiding the poor, the young and disadvantaged women in developing countries.
He said the AIDS program is to be run by the Indian government, which will contribute another $14.1 million, and receive help from the World Health Organization and other international agencies.
One goal is to increase the screening of blood supplies for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS, from the present 25-30 percent to 90 percent in five years. Currently only blood donations in larger cities are effectively screened, said Salim Habayeb, senior public health physician with the bank’s India division.
Habayeb said the program could save 300,000 people from getting AIDS by the year 2000 and reduce the projected number of HIV infections by 2 million. At current infection rates, at least 5 million infections are expected by the end of the century.
Richard Skolnik, chief of the India department’s human resources division, said that in addition to improved protection of the blood supply, the program would include a nationwide campaign to educate people about the disease, improved training of health workers, support for efforts to monitor spread of the disease and steps to control its spread.
Skolnik said 500,000 people in India are known to be infected with HIV.
The money is to come from the bank’s International Development Association. Officials said that, in addition to saving lives, the loan could save $500 million in health care costs and another $3 billion in indirect costs associated with the spread of the deadly disease.