Bruni says surprised by her popularity in India (ANI Exclusive)

New Delhi, Dec.6 (ANI): French First Lady Carla Bruni on Monday said that she was quite surprised by her popularity in India, and added that she was looking forward to her four-day stay in the country.

Talking to ANI TV on the sidelines of a visit to the Safdarjung Hospital and the Naz Foundation here this morning, Bruni said: "I am quite surprised by my popularity in India. I did not expect it."

Bruni also said that as far as she was concerned, the visit to India was a very short one, and that she would love to return and stay for a longer period.

"It is just four days. I want to see more of this country. I would love to have the opportunity of visiting it again, for a longer time," she said.

She revealed that during her meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi today, she had talked about the Global Fund, an international financing institution that invests the world's money to save lives, especially victims afflicted with HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and her role as a brand ambassador for it.

She said that Gandhi had asked her about her role in the Global Fund and with other institutions supporting health causes.

To date, the Global Fund has committed 19.3 billion dollars in 144 countries to support large-scale prevention, treatment and care programs against these three diseases.

Asked why she saw the campaign against AIDS as being an important cause, Bruni told ANI that having lost her brother to AIDS, she is committed to all causes aimed at the prevention of AIDS.

Bruni said it is an issue close to her, and she felt being France's First Lady and popular with the masses, she had the platform to further her sincere efforts in combating this deadly disease.

"It is important to prevent AIDS. It is an issue close to me. My being in this position (French First Lady) and being popular with the people, helps me to speak about the dangers of HIV/AIDS, and what steps need to be taken to counter it," she said.

Bruni has been making sincere efforts to pursue these preventive campaigns in a low-key manner, and does not flaunt this aspect of her life. She also actively involved with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

On Monday, she visited Safdarjung Hospital and the New Delhi-based Naz Foundation Trust, an NGO working on HIV/AIDS and sexual health.

Bruni visited the hospital to watch how its pediatric and maternity wings deal with antenatal care (the systemic medical supervision of women during pregnancy and HIV/AIDS care. Dr.N.K. Mohanty, Additional Director General and Medical Superintendent of the hospital and senior medical staff briefed her about the activities of the pediatric and maternity wings.

The hospital has the largest number of child deliveries. In 2009, the hospital delivered 20397 newborns, and till October of this year, the figure was 17833. By Smita Prakash (ANI)

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