By Prof. C.O. Onyebuchi Chukwu – Minister of Health in Nigeria
The news of a remarkable commitment of £1 Billion (US$1.6 billion) by the U.K. to The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria announced in New York on Monday is as welcome as it is timely. Laudably, this pledge means that the U.K. has more than doubled the size of its already substantial support to the Global Fund for the next three years.
Years ago while working as a doctor in different hospitals in Nigeria, I learnt first-hand the significance of having adequate resources to prevent and treat infectious diseases. Often, the remarkable commitment of health officials would fall short whenever there were not sufficient tools to help them fight disease. Infectious diseases, by their very nature, require a certain combination of conditions to thrive. One of those is failure of precise and timely intervention when the diseases show signs of retreating.
Today as health minister, I realize that we have made significant strides since the days when HIV and AIDS was killing people in droves in my country, and indeed in much of sub-Saharan Africa. Through robust investments, scientific advances and better implementation, HIV prevalence and new infections in many countries across the continent are now reducing. The same success has been registered in the fight against malaria and tuberculosis, the other two of the biggest infectious diseases of our time. The three diseases are now in retreat.
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