Nigeria and the Global Fund, in a bid to fight HIV, 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 Nigeria.
The information is contained in a release signed by the Head, Grant Management Division of the Global Fund, Mark Edington, on Thursday in Lagos.
Edington explained that “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.”
“The grant-signing followed the launch of a national programme by President Goodluck Jonathan in October, which was aimed at saving one million lives by 2015 through increasing the access to effective basic health services,” he said.
He stated that Nigeria had declared it was committing $500 million to support the programme.
According to him, “Nigeria has taken big strides and to turn back now is unthinkable for much remain to be done.
“The HIV grants signed today will target ‘most-at-risk populations’ such as female sex workers, men who have sex with men and drug users who inject themselves.
“Others are orphans and vulnerable children, including those infected with HIV and HIV positive mothers who have just put to bed and are breastfeeding their babies,” Edington said.
Edington said that the HIV epidemic in Nigeria was 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 nine 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 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.