Nigeria has the second highest number of people living with HIV.
Nigeria and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria have signed five grant agreements worth $335 million. This is to support programmes that would aid prevention and treatment of HIV and tuberculosis in Africa’s most populous country.
The information is contained in a release sent out on Thursday in Lagos and signed by Mark Edington, Head, Grant Management Division of the Global Fund.
Mr. Edington said that the grant agreements were a critical part of the three billion dollars in 169 grants that the Global Fund has committed in 2012.
“For Nigeria, the grant agreements address a tremendous need: Nigeria has the second highest number of people living with HIV in the world and only 30 per cent of people requiring HIV treatment are receiving antiretroviral therapy.”
Mr. Edington said that the grant-signing followed the launch in October by Nigeria’s President, Goodluck Jonathan, of a national program aimed at “Saving One Million Lives” by 2015 by increasing access to effective basic health services.
He said that Nigeria announced that it was committing $500 million to support the program.
“Nigeria has made some big strides and to turn back now is unthinkable, but the challenges are formidable and much remains to be done,” he said.
He said there is now an excellent opportunity for Nigeria’s government to close the funding gap for antiretrovirals.
“The HIV grants signed today will target “most-at-risk populations” such as female sex workers, men who have sex with men and injecting drug users.
“Also, orphans and vulnerable children, including those infected with HIV; and HIV positive mothers who have recently given birth to children and are breast-feeding them,” Mr. Edington said.
The Global Fund leader said that the HIV epidemic in Nigeria is highly concentrated among high-risk groups with 20 per cent of infections attributed to female sex workers.
He added that Injecting drug users and men who have sex with men account for 9 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively, of annual new infections.
“Grant resources will be targeted to achieve a very significant increase in numbers of patients receiving antiretroviral therapy and prevention of mother-to-child-transmission services.
“The tuberculosis grants will seek to increase awareness of TB and TB/HIV co-infection, help provide increased access to effective treatment services and expand treatment of MDR-TB by strengthening and expanding services,” he said.
According to Mr. Edington, Nigeria, with 165 million inhabitants is by far Africa’s most populous country, and has one of the lowest TB case detection rates in the world with an estimated 210,000 cases annually.
“TB prevalence and mortality have fallen significantly since 2003.
“During a transformation of the Global Fund’s grant management structure this year, Nigeria was identified as one of the 20 “high impact” countries.
“The Global Fund is adopting a new funding model to ensure strategic investment in programs that can be most effective and achieve highest impact,” he said.
The Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu, while speaking for Nigeria, said that the grant signing was another giant step in the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
“With the commitment of a spirited organisation such as the Global Fund, solutions are being offered and answers are emerging.
“People who tested positive for HIV, and who are now living healthy lives, are a testimony to the positive contribution of the Global Fund and other partners.” he said.
Also, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, commended Global Fund for the attention they gave to Nigeria
“We are greatly encouraged that the Global Fund is paying particular attention to Nigeria.
“I look forward to a very fruitful future relationship between Nigeria and the Global Fund. But that relationship must be based on performance and accountability,” he said.
Global Fund is an international financing institution dedicated to attracting and disbursing resources to prevent and treat HIV and AIDS, TB and malaria.
The Global Fund also promotes partnerships between governments, civil society, the private sector, and local communities.
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