Under fire, Mumbai AIDS project head quits, declines Sion Hospital dean’s job

Mumbai, February 22 Scathing remarks from the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) on the management of the HIV spread in Mumbai has led to the resignation of the head of the city’s AIDS project on Friday. Mumbai District AIDS Control Society (MDACS) project director Dr Nirupa Borges, who submitted her resignation, has also refused to take over as dean of the Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital, Sion — the new post offered to her.

From Indian Express.

“We had offered her the dean’s post at Sion Hospital. She has submitted her resignation, but it has not been accepted yet,” said Municipal Commissioner Jairaj Phatak.

According to BMC officials, in a meeting held recently with NACO chief Dr Sujata Rao, officials were categorically asked to put a public health official who can go to the grassroots and slums in charge of the MDACS. Dr Rao reportedly quoted AIDS/HIV figures for Mumbai and Chennai between 2003 and 2006 to drive home the fact that the programme to prevent the spread of HIV was not being managed well in the city.

“They (NACO) said that the preventive programme in Mumbai was not satisfactory. They said the MDACS needed a public health specialist who can go to the grassroots, and not a professor,” said Additional Municipal Commissioner Kishor Gajbhiye. On Dr Borges refusing Sion Hospital dean’s post, he said: “She was not comfortable with the post as she had not applied for the same.”

The MDACS, an autonomous body registered under the Charitable Trust Act, was established in 1998 by the BMC for the control and prevention of HIV/AIDS in Mumbai. The working of MDACS is governed by the policies formulated, adopted and implemented by the governing body. However, the executive committee and governing body of the MDACS work within the framework of rules, regulations and policies issued by the NACO of the Government of India.

“I personally think a person from the field of public health should be handling the MDACS. She (Dr Borges) is a senior professor and was offered the post of dean of Sion Hospital,” Gajbhiye said.

In a setback to the AIDS control programme in Mumbai, a World Bank report recently observed that there had been problems in the procurement of kits as well as in appointment of NGOs in Mumbai and Maharashtra. Ruling out any connection between the report and the resignation, Gajbhiye said: “There is no connection with the World Bank report as the report was on the performance of the MDACS during 1999 to 2004. Dr Borges was not in-charge at that time.” Dr Borges could not be reached despite repeated efforts.

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