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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
INDIA: India Faces Cost Protest over the Procurement of
Jo Johnson
March 7, 2007
Financial Times (London) (03.03.2007) - Wednesday, March 7,

Alleging a lack of transparency in procurement procedures, the World Bank and the UK's Department for International Development (DFID) are refusing to finance the Indian government's purchase of condoms.

India's National AIDS Control Program-III (NACP-III), which starts next month, needs hundreds of millions of condoms. Currently, the government buys these from local companies, like the state-owned Hindustan Latex Ltd. But some HIV advocates say the condoms are overpriced and the government's procurement procedures are wasting scarce prevention funds. "Over a billion condoms are being made under government contract every year at 25-40 percent above the market price. It all looks very ugly to me," said the head of one nongovernmental AIDS organization.

A senior international civil servant running an HIV outreach in India said, "Domestic preference is playing a role here that it wouldn't in other countries, leading to a situation where India is paying 30-40 percent more than the world average. It's very frustrating, but the government says it's non-negotiable." K. Sujatha Rao, director-general of India's National AIDS Control Organization, said she understands that donors want international bidders involved but quality is key. "Korean condoms are very cheap, but they are quite suspect and are bound to be disastrous," she said. "I want good quality condoms." Jeff Wilson, a UK High Commission spokesperson in India, acknowledged that procurement is "an issue" and said DFID does not plan to finance the purchasing of condoms under NACP-III.