24 August 2012
ABUJA, Nigeria – The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria and Nigeria signed two grant agreements today worth a total of US$225 million to support programs that will prevent and treat malaria.
With Nigeria’s federal and state governments embracing the goal of sharply reducing the number of malaria deaths, the grant agreements expand a partnership with the Global Fund that has yielded remarkable progress in recent years, such as undertaking the largest distribution of bed nets done anywhere – more than 45 million to date.
“Nigeria is poised to become a global leader in the fight against malaria,” said Debrework Zewdie, Deputy Executive Director of the Global Fund, who was here to sign the grants. “When Nigeria puts together an initiative to save one million lives a year, by preventing and treating disease, we see this leadership. Where Nigeria succeeds, many other nations will follow.”
In Nigeria, where the entire population is at risk of infection with malaria, more deaths are caused by malaria than in any other country. Nigerian officials said today they are taking steps to increase the impact of grants like these, by committing additional funds from Nigeria.
“Investing in public health, and finding ways to prevent malaria from killing Nigerians, is a commitment we can and will make,” said Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance. “Malaria is a killer. It can be prevented.”
C.O. Onyebuchi Chukwu, Nigeria’s Federal Minister of Health, added: “This is a new phase, a new way of doing things in our country.” He also said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that we are on the right track.”
The two grant agreements signed today include an additional US$50 million for bed nets, approved in an unusual move by the Global Fund Board that was linked to additional commitments by the Government of Nigeria. Federal and state governments that can match and leverage investments in preventing and treating disease are more likely to win support from donor nations, especially when joined by private sector donors who recognize the seriousness of the public health threat.
“Do not underestimate what malaria can do,” said Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, Chairman of Friends Africa, who also spoke at the signing ceremony today. “Unless we take a committed stand, we risk losing the war against this disease.”
During a transformation of the Global Fund’s grant management structure this year, Nigeria was identified as one of 20 ‘high impact’ countries now under a special designation. The Global Fund is currently devising a new funding model that is expected to ensure strategic investment in programs that can be most effective, such as the malaria control program in Nigeria.
Both of the grants signed today contribute to achieving nationwide coverage of insecticide-treated nets through mass campaigns and routine distribution, and increase access to medicine and diagnostic tests that are critical to saving lives at the onset of malaria. Treating the nets with insecticide not only protects children and adults sleeping under them, it also reduces the spread of the disease by eliminating mosquitoes.
Under the grants, health workers in both public and private sectors will be trained and funds are reserved to raise awareness among communities.
Alhaji Isa Yusuf Tata, representing business leader Alhaji Aliko Dangote, and members of the Country Coordinating Mechanism and development partners were also present.
The Principal Recipients are the National Malaria Control Program of the Federal Ministry of Health and Society for Family Health Nigeria.
The programs will be complementary to efforts by the Government of Nigeria, the World Bank, the UK Department of International Development, the United States Agency for International Development, the US President’s Malaria Initiative, UNICEF, UNITAID and other partners.
Since its first grant from the Global Fund in 2003, Nigeria has been awarded grants worth US$ 980 million for the fight against HIV and AIDS, TB and Malaria.