The UK’s aid programme in India will be restructured and traditional financial grant aid ended responsibly so projects already underway will be completed by the end of 2015 as planned. However, Justine Greening will not sign off any new programmes, and financial aid programmes to the country will end completely in 2015.
The UK Department for International Development (DFID) is currently funding one palliative care project in India, through Help the Hospices, which is due to end in March 2015. This project, to develop children’s palliative care in Maharashtra is seeing strong results – with children’s palliative care now available in two new locations. There is also progress to include children’s palliative care in the medical undergraduate curriculum.
Palliative care professionals in India do not see this announcement as having a significant impact on their programmes, as DFID aid makes up such a small proportion of palliative care funding. Suresh Kumar, director at WHO Collaborating Center for Community Participation in Palliative Care in Calicut, noted that much of their financial support comes from charities, rather than UK government aid.
Anil Palerni, Honorary Secretary of Indian Association of Palliative Care said: “There are people and marginalised groups who have benefited from DFID interventions and stopping the support abruptly may have some impact on them in (certain) states. But one can not expect support such as this to continue for ever. At some point every country has to start taking up responsibility of its own people; especially when it can do so.”
The decision to phase out aid follows Justine Greening’s recent visit to India which saw the conclusion of talks with senior Indian politicians and Government of India officials about the future of UK-India development cooperation.
Justine Greening said “Having visited India I have seen first hand the tremendous progress being made. India is successfully developing and our own bilateral relationship has to keep up with 21st Century India. It’s time to recognise India’s changing place in the world.”
Giving his reaction on the BBC news website, India’s foreign minister Salman Khurshid said “Aid is the past and trade is the future.”