Health Ministry fails to finalise agency to run AIDS campaign
ISLAMABAD: The World Bank (WB) approved a three-year AIDS awareness campaign project in 2003 and allocated Rs 275 million as an interest-free loan for the running costs. However, over one year has passed and the project has not started.
The National AIDS Control Programme was planning to implement the project via a reputable advertising agency. Due to the delay, the NACP has been unable to run a single media campaign for the past year, official sources told Daily Times on Monday.
Sources said the WB had told the NACP not to advertise without hiring an advertising company. The step was taken to ensure transparency in the project and to obtain desired results, they added. In order to select the appropriate company, a committee consisting of senior officials from the Health Ministry, Finance Ministry and the NACP was formed. The committee was to make a decision by April 2004, sources said.
After deliberating for several months, the committee selected a company after short-listing 18 companies. However, the contract of running the media campaign could not be awarded to the selected firm, sources said. Before the contract could be awarded to the company, other competitors reportedly challenged the decision and influenced the Health Ministry to review the entire process. Final approval is yet to be made, sources said.
Normally, advertising agencies for other health projects were selected through the office of the health education adviser, sources said. However, in this particular project, the decision to form a committee to select an appropriate agency was an exception, they added. At every forum, NACP and Health Ministry officials said that without creating public awareness, the campaign against AIDS would not achieve its desired results.
Under the WB’s direction, the advertising agency should design the one-year media campaign to reach every part of the country, sources said, adding that the agency’s task was to distribute advertisements for the print and electronic media as well as designing advertisements according to targeted groups.
The WB wanted the preparation of a detailed analytical report before reaching targeted groups. The impact and feedback of the media campaign were deemed important enough to be examined scientifically, sources said.
Recently, a WB review mission visited Pakistan and expressed reservations at the delay in the AIDS awareness campaign. shahzad raza