New Delhi: Parliamentarians and leaders pledged to provide scientists with “adequate resources” on par with international standards in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam launched the HIV Vaccine Translational Health Sciences and Technology Institute (THSTI) in New Delhi on Monday at a symposium on accelerating India’s search for an HIV vaccine.
The institute is a joint venture between the department of biotechnology (DBT) and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) to establish, operate and fund an HIV vaccine design programme in India.
Promising, “strong political will” at the highest level, health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said, “A preventive vaccine for HIV/AIDS is the best hope to end this epidemic.” He added that the step was an initiative to reinforce a national response in the global fight against disease.
Health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.
“India has increasingly been an innovator in the field of biomedical sciences. The Indian government has reached beyond traditional prevention and treatment programmes and has started to stress on research activities for HIV vaccine and other new prevention strategies as a priority,” he added.
The Translational Institute has been set up with a seed money of Rs.70 crore and will be devoted exclusively to HIV vaccine research and development.
“Our political objective is to provide our scientists with adequate resources to meet this global challenge” said Vayalar Ravi, minister for overseas Indian affairs.
The laboratory will be situated in Faridabad on the outskirts of Delhi and will focus on keeping Indian scientists abreast of global developments.
“This institute is a link between scientists in India and abroad who will be working collaboratively towards achieving a common goal. The idea is to connect the efforts of various agencies, industry and consortium instead of fragmenting the work. Forging international collaborations and openly sharing scientific knowledge is key to achieving solutions for global health problems,” said M.K. Bhan, secretary, DBT.
India is home to nearly 2.7 million HIV-positive people, making it No. 3 in infections in the world.