PHFI denies lobbying with parliamentarians on tobacco control policy

Public Health Foundation of India has received notification regarding its FCRA registration

GN Bureau | April 21, 2017


#The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation   #revoked   #FCRA registeration   #tobacco   #PHFI  

 Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) has denied lobbying with the media and parliamentarians for tobacco control policy, a reason cited by the ministry of home affairs for revoking its Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA) license.

 In an order dated April 10, the organisation headed by Dr K Srinath Reddy, a prominent public health advocate, PHFI has received the notification from the home ministry’s FCRA Wing regarding its FCRA registration.
 
“We are a public-private partnership formed by the government in 2006.There are projects which PHFI handles on behalf of the health ministry and for this, funding comes from international sources under FCRA. The observation made by the home ministry is that we used funds for media and parliamentary lobbying, which is wrong,” says Rajiv Chibber, head, media relations, PHFI.  
 
The home ministry's order cites that PHFI, which receives a large percentage of its funds from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has used the foreign contribution to lobby with government on tobacco control policy issues.
 
Since, the organisation works in partnership with the ministry on several projects related to tobacco consumption in the country, Chibber says, “It could be a possibility that when we presented a report on the 85 percent pictoral warning on tobacco packets, disseminated meetings happened with the parliamentarians, which is now been taken as ‘lobbying’.”
 
PHFI got its registration renewed on August 4, 2016. Since then it is under the constant screening of the government. “Once the FCRA license is renewed, the government keeps an eye on the organisation for a year. All those observations on financial irregularities, non-disclosure of funds and other fund transfers made by the ministry are seen only from the lobbying perspective. PHFI has submitted the requisite information and documents to the MHA on the observations made in the notification and provided the needed clarifications. We are expecting that our license will be renewed.” 
 
The organisation is surprised that the ministry of health was not consulted before such orders were given. It provides technical assistance to central and states in several areas like HIV prevention, access to drugs, tobacco control, immunization, environmental health, universal health coverage, public health cadre development and capacity building of primary care physicians. All of these are in consonance with the objectives of the National Health Policy and serve public interest. Many of these activities were in partnership with the ministry of health and family welfare.
 

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