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As UNAIDS Names Aishwarya an Envoy, of Novartis Case & India's Global Fund Loss

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 24 -- Just as the Clinton Global Initiative is a platform for Proctor & Gamble and even Freeport-McMoRan mining to announce partnerships with Smoky Robinson, for example, the UN General Assembly allows UN agencies to launch new public faces.

  UNAIDS on Monday "appointed global Indian icon Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as International Goodwill Ambassador." Inner City Press asked UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibe, as before, about the scandal of the Global Funds on Aids, Malaria and Tuberculosis not funding anymore (after it "contributed the maximum of `630.44 crores in 2009-10 and `307.58 in 2010-11" in India.) Video here, from Minute 19:45.

Sidibe put a brave face on this, saying this is an opportunity for India to start funding its own programs. Yes, but that's true of all countries previously receiving Global Fund help.

Sidibe indirectly acknowledged the problem, referring to "Global Fund reforms" so it will have "credibility again."

It's rare for the UN system to admit the need for more credibility: so far, for example, no one has been held accountable for the Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan scandal documented in leaked audits Inner City Press has published.

   But even on this, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon ended up giving yet another post, AIDS envoy to Central Asia and Eastern Europe, to the man responsible for the Global Fund scandal: Michel Kazatchkine. One still wonders what Sidibe thinks of this.

  Inner City Press asked Aishwarya Rai Bachchan about the case in India in which Novartis is pursuing a patent case in such a way as would undermine the availability of generic drugs, including AIDS drugs, at lower costs. Video here, from Minute 21:54.

  Aishwarya Rai Bachchan replied that, "I'm learning so that I can step forward." Fair enough. Watch this site.

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