World Bank Approves $16.6M Grant To Fight AIDS in Abidjan-Lagos Corridor in Sub-Saharan Africa
The World Bank on Thursday approved a $16.6 million grant to help fight HIV/AIDS along the sub-Saharan African Abidjan-Lagos trade corridor, which crosses Cote d' Ivoire, Ghana, Benin, Togo and Nigeria, Reuters reports. The money will go toward prevention efforts aimed at transport workers, migrants, commercial sex workers and local residents along the corridor. According to UNAIDS estimates, approximately three million people travel along the corridor each year, and, assuming an HIV/AIDS prevalence of 10%, approximately 300,000 HIV-positive people travel along the route each year, according to UNAIDS. The grant is part of the World Bank's Multi-Country HIV/AIDS Program, or MAP, for Africa, which has already granted $1 billion to fight HIV/AIDS throughout the continent, Reuters reports. The program, which will support testing centers, improve treatment, care and support services and encourage condom use through social marketing, is considered "high risk" because it is the first regional effort under the MAP program, according to Reuters. The World Bank said that it is unlikely that countries along the corridor would be able to fund the program on their own, adding that the bank would likely have to make further contributions after the program's four-year plan, Reuters reports.
Keith Hansen, World Bank manger for the AIDS Campaign Team for Africa, said, "HIV/AIDS doesn't respect borders, it exploits borders," adding, "Many worthwhile sub-regional AIDS initiatives have been started with widespread support from partners, but to date limited funding and implementation hurdles have prevented them from broadening their reach." The corridor project "aims to fill a much needed gap and will accelerate the implementation of national AIDS programs in the five countries along the corridor," Hansen said (Wroughton, Reuters, 11/13). Stephen Brushett, World Bank senior transport specialist and team leader for the corridor project, said, "[T]his first sub-regional project will make a significant contribution to addressing [the] challenge -- helping to create the right institutional framework and creating the environment in which other official external partners as well as the private sector can make their contributions" (World Bank release, 11/13).