WEST AFRICA: World Bank gives $16 m for cross-border HIV/AIDS initiative
ABIDJAN, 14 November (PLUSNEWS) - The World Bank has approved a US $16 million grant to combat HIV/AIDS along the heavily-traveled coastal corridor between Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, and Lagos in Nigeria.
Dubbed the HIV/AIDS Abidjan-Lagos Transport Corridor project, the project aims to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS among transport workers, migrants, commercial sex workers and local people living and working along the corridor, the Bank said in a press release on Thursday.
It will complement national AIDS programs in Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Benin, Togo and Nigeria, and will focus on HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care services in border towns and communities in this sub-region of western Africa.
"The Abidjan-Lagos Transport Corridor project aims to fill a much needed gap, and will help to accelerate the implementation of national AIDS programs in the five countries along the corridor," Keith Hansen of the AIDS Campaign Team for Africa said.
The UN Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) estimates that approximately 3 million people travel along the transport corridor each year.
Assuming an HIV/AIDS prevalence rate of 10 percent among people traveling along the corridor, an estimated 300,000 people infected with HIV/AIDS pass through the corridor annually, creating a substantial risk of transmission to uninfected people, the release warned.
The project falls under the Bank's Multi-Country HIV/AIDS Programme (MAP) for Africa. The MAP has so far provided $1 billion to African countries to fight HIV/AIDS.
"The MAP provides comprehensive support to African countries to manage a fully integrated response to combating the AIDS epidemic," Callisto Madavo, World Bank Vice President for Africa, said.
"We knew when we started the MAP program that individual country programs alone were not going to be adequate to curb the epidemic," Debrework Zewdie, an official of the Global HIV/AIDS Program said. "Sub-regional programs will strengthen individual country AIDS initiatives."
The Western Africa Initiative (WAI) was started by the World Bank and executed by UNAIDS. Eighteen countries and two regional organizations are in the WAI, which aims to promote inter-country dialogue, foster co-operation, support benchmark projects, and encourage an expanded response to AIDS, the Bank said.
Various studies have identified the link between the movement of populations and the spread of disease and illness, particularly sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV/AIDS, the release said.