With the suspension of fund by the Global Fund to Nigeria’s AIDS agency, some HIV/AIDS advocates fear this may affect the fight against the disease in the country.
The Global Fund said it has suspended with immediate effect cash disbursement due to the misappropriation of some $3.8 million between 2010 and 2014.
An advocate for persons living with HIV/AIDS and coordinator of charity group Projekthope, Steve Aborisade, said the outcome of events was not shocking as corruption has eaten into all spheres of society.
We are pushing and we are going to demand that the ones found culpable must pay. It is time that we stop playing with the lives of vulnerable Nigerians.
“The country has been grappling with massive corruption in all sectors of the economy, in all sectors of the society, so it is not surprising that we are in this sort of corruption in HIV intervention, what is surprising is the fact that nothing has been done in these sector,” Aborisade said.
Nigeria has the second highest number of persons infected with HIV/AIDS after South Africa with some 3.4 million infected people.
“Of this figure, about 1.8 million Nigerians needed to be on treatment, only about 750,000 are currently on treatment and they are treated because of Global Fund and its partner,” Aborisade added.
He said some treatment centres designated to dispense antiretroviral drugs claim to have run out of stock.
News reports indicate that some people have already been picked up for questioning and Aborisade has confirmed that some of the staff of the ministry of health have been answering questions to the National Corruption Agency and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Meanwhile, the Director General of Nigeria’s agency for the control of AIDS, NACA, Prof. John Idoko, has refuted the claims that Global Fund had suspended grants to Nigeria.
He said on Monday that the suspension was rather of the quarterly disbursement of funds and that various intervention grants were on-going.
Prof. Idoko however confirmed that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission was investigating the alleged fraud.