(MENAFN Press) A significant trend in increased domestic investment in health by several African nations is highlighting efforts to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, combined with new contributions to the Global Fund.
Nigeria has committed US1 billion for investments in treatment, care and prevention for people affected by the diseases as part of the "Saving One Million Lives" campaign begun by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan last year.
At the launch of the Global Fund's Fourth Replenishment in Washington D.C. earlier this week, Nigerian Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala announced a new pledge of US150 million for investments in HIV prevention and treatment.
This year, as UNAIDS reported, low and middle income countries are for the first time providing more funding themselves for HIV than they are getting from external sources.
In addition, Minister Ngozi also announced a US30 million contribution to the Global Fund.
Four other African countries also made pledges to the Global Fund: Kenya pledged US2 million, Zimbabwe pledged US1 million. Malawi pledged US500,000. Cote d'Ivoire announced it will contribute US 6.4 million through the debt-swap Global Fund Debt2Health initiative.
"These pledges represent the commitment of African countries to fight the three diseases, not only through domestic and international financing, but also by directly contributing to the Global Fund," said Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund. "Through these commitments African countries are demonstrating that not only high income or emerging economies can contribute to an organization like the Global Fund. We are all in this together."
Earlier this week, the Global Fund announced that its replenishment launch meeting had gathered US12 billion, a 30 percent increase over the US9.2 billion in firm pledges secured in 2010 for the 2011-2013 period.
In Zimbabwe, an AIDS levy has increased significantly since the adoption of the multicurrency system in 2009, from US5.7 million in 2009 to US26.5 million in 2012. Projections indicate that Zimbabwe's AIDS levy will grow to US33 million in 2013 to US47 million in 2016. Other countries in the region are considering emulating Zimbabwe's model.
In 2010, Cte D'Ivoire became the first African country to benefit from Debt2Health, an initiative launched by the Global Fund to help generate additional domestic resources for health financing through debt swaps. To date a total of ‚163.6 million (US212.5 million) has been written off in swap agreements between creditor and debtor countries.
The Kenyan government has been working closely with UNAIDS, the Global Fund and PEPFAR to eliminate new HIV infections among children and keep their mothers alive. Since 2009, Kenya has reduced new infections among children by 44 percent.
The Ministry of Health of Malawi, working with partners, created a new PMTCT strategy which they named "Option B". Under this program, every HIV-positive pregnant woman, regardless of her CD 4 count, was started on lifelong ARV therapy. In the second quarter of 2011, when Option B was launched, there were 1,257 women who had started ARV therapy. By the end of 2012, that number had increased to 10,882.
Each of these developments are separate pieces of an emerging trend toward greater investments in health, which coincide with rising rates of economic growth in many countries of Africa, now the fastest-developing continent in the world.