ABUJA - Nigeria and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria signed five grant agreements today worth a total of US $335 million to support programs that will help significantly expand prevention and treatment of HIV and tuberculosis in Africa's most populous country.
Today's grant agreements are a critical part of the $3 billion, in 169 grants, that the Global Fund has committed in 2012.
For Nigeria, today's 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.
"We are greatly encouraged that the Global Fund is paying particular attention to Nigeria," said Anyim Pius Anyim, Secretary to the Government of the Federation. "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."
Onyebuchi Chukwu, Minister of Health for Nigeria, said: "This grant signing is 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."
The grant-signing follows 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. Nigeria has announced that it is 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," said Mark Edington, Head of the Grant Management Division of the Global Fund. "There is now an excellent opportunity for Nigeria's government to close the funding gap for anti-retrovirals."
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; 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.
Evidence shows that the HIV epidemic in Nigeria is highly concentrated among high-risk groups with 20 per cent of infections attributed to female sex workers. 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 (DOTS) and expand treatment of MDR-TB by strengthening and expanding services.
Nigeria, which with 165 million inhabitants is by far Africa's most populous country, 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.
Source: Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria