London: Millions of people living below the poverty line in India will benefit from 250 million pounds (Rs2,014 crore ) of new UK aid aimed at reducing the number of children that die before their fifth birthday, Gareth Thomas, Minister for International Development said on 13 June.
The funds will be used to ensure that when mothers give birth, a doctor or nurse is available to provide medical back up, giving them and their babies a much better chance of survival.
Groups with a high risk of contracting AIDS such as commercial sex workers and injecting drugs users will benefit from funds for expanding education programmes that teach them how to protect themselves.
Gareth Thomas said “India has gained a reputation as a major economic superpower. But we should not forget that 1 in 3 Indians survive on less than 50 pence a day.
“Only 1 in 4 children from India’s poorest families are immunized against killer diseases compared to 3 in 4 from the richest.”
Funds will also help to improve healthcare for other socially excluded groups such as dalits, indigenous people and minorities including Muslims.
Most of the funding will go directly to the states of Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.
Britain’s aid budget for India is set to rise to 300 million pounds for 2008 and designed to improve healthcare, get more children into primary school and reduce poverty in India.