Nigerian president joints Global Fund efforts to fight disease

Goodluck Jonathan, the president of Nigeria, recently agreed to help lead fundraising efforts for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

President Jonathan met on Monday with Mark Dybul, the executive director of the Global Fund, to discuss joint efforts to control the three deadly diseases in Nigeria and throughout the world. Jonathan accepted an invitation to be a co-chair in the replenishment efforts for 2013 for the Global Fund.

"Working together, we can make tremendous gains," Dybul said. "With the existing science, our understanding of the epidemiology and our collective experience in combating the diseases, we now have an opportunity to control them. If we do not, the long-term costs will be incalculable.

Other co-chairs include U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and heads of state from developed countries, the private sector and emerging economies.

Dybul praised Nigeria's Save One Million Lives initiative aimed at significantly increasing access to basic quality health services, particularly for women and children. During Dybul's visit, he met with multiple Nigerian officials, including Minister of State for Health Muhammad Pate and Minister of Health Chukwu Onyebuchi.

Dybul announced that the Global Fund will provide up to $288 million in added funding to help speed up programs to prevent and treat malaria and HIV in Nigeria.

"The upcoming replenishment of the Global Fund is its most critical replenishment and ought to be given the highest levels of support for the fight against these diseases to be won," Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, the chairman of Friends Africa, said.

Nigeria has the second-largest number of people living with HIV, though only 30 percent of people who need treatment are on antiretroviral therapy. Just 16 percent of pregnant HIV-positive mothers receive prophylactic treatment to prevent passing on the virus to their children.