The fight against terminal diseases received a boost, Thursday, as Nigeria and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria signed five grant agreements valued at US $335 million.
The grant agreements are to support programmes that would help significantly expand prevention and treatment of HIV and tuberculosis in Nigeria.
This is coming on the heels of the launch in October by Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan, of a National programme, Saving One Million Lives by 2015, by increasing access to effective basic health services. Nigeria has also announced that it is committing $500 million to support the programme.
The grant agreements are a critical part of the $3 billion in 169 grants, that the Global Fund had committed in 2012.
The grant agreements would no doubt address a tremendous need as Nigeria had the second highest number of people living with HIV in the world and only 30 percent of people requiring HIV treatment are receiving anti-retroviral therapy.
Reacting to the agreements, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim said the grants would encourage the fight against the diseases.
Speaking, Head of the Grant Management Division of the Global Fund, Mark Edington said: "Nigeria has made some big strides and to turn back now is unthinkable. But the challenges are formidable and much remains to be done.
"There is now an excellent opportunity for Nigeria's government to close the funding gap for anti-retrovirals."
He said: "It shows 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."
On his part, the Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, noted that the signing of the grant was another giant step in the fight against HIV&AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
He said: "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."