18 December 2013
GENEVA – Efforts are underway in Cote d’Ivoire to strengthen HIV services so that by 2016 nearly all HIV-positive women can receive treatment to prevent transmission of the virus to their unborn children, supported by two grant agreements signed this week with the Global Fund for a total of €77 million.
Mother-to-child transmission is a significant factor driving the HIV epidemic in Cote d’Ivoire, which has been disrupted by years of civil unrest and now has the highest HIV prevalence of any country in West Africa, 3.7 percent of the adult population.
"This signing is a concrete translation of the joint commitment by the Global Fund and UNAIDS to Cote d’Ivoire, financially and also for capacity building,” said Raymonde Goudou Coffie, Minister of Health of Cote d’Ivoire, at a signing ceremony today at the World Health Organization in Geneva. “These funds will be used for the most vulnerable populations.”
UNAIDS played a constructive role in working with Cote d’Ivoire’s government to reorganize its AIDS response and prepare the grants, and also strengthened coordination and cooperation with the Global Fund.
“We can make a tremendous difference in Cote d’Ivoire by implementing effective methods,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “These grants will allow Cote d’Ivoire to take a decisive step forward in responding to HIV and can significantly increase the number of people receiving treatment and care.”
Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund, added: “With these grants, prevention of mother-to-child transmission will cover 90 percent of HIV-positive pregnant women by September 2016.”
The two grants also help fund prevention activities among the most vulnerable, including sex workers and men who have sex with men, among whom prevalence is more than four times that for the adult population; support for victims of gender-based violence; and condom distribution.
The Global Fund works closely in Cote d’Ivoire with the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which is currently funding 80 percent of the HIV response in that country.
In their joint planning, the Global Fund and PEPFAR have focused on enhanced quality of services, such as stepping up adherence to antiretroviral treatment and ensuring community interventions focus on areas where prevalence is high.
A €63 million grant with the Ministry of Health and the Fight against HIV/AIDS was signed on Wednesday by Minister Coffie and Dr. Dybul. Mr. Sidibé was invited to sign the grant as a witness.
A €13.8 million grant with the AIDS Alliance Cote d’Ivoire was also signed in Abidjan on Monday.
The grants will increase the Global Fund’s financial contribution to antiretroviral treatment in Cote d’Ivoire from 30 percent to 45 percent of national needs. The number of people on treatment is targeted to reach more than 160,000 people living with HIV by September 2016, compared with 109,243 people in June 2013.
A rapid expansion in funding for HIV/AIDS programs since 2005 has contributed to a 51 percent fall in HIV-related deaths between 2005 and 2011, according to UNAIDS data. And if current trends continue Cote d’Ivoire will firmly on the path to achieving zero AIDS-related deaths.