Associated Press (06.04.04) - Monday, June 07, 2004
On Friday, the US global AIDS coordinator visited hospital
patients in Nigeria, promising more money to help Africa's
most populous nation fight HIV/AIDS. Randall L. Tobias pledged
$58 million this year to help fund more than 110 Nigerian
government and charity organizations - including around 50
faith-based groups. An estimated 3.5 million of Nigeria's 126
million people are HIV-infected. "There will certainly be more
money in the years ahead," said Tobias during a visit to a
hospital in Gwagwalada.
Under a Nigerian government-funded program, the hospital
already provides drugs to 450 AIDS patients. It is also among
Nigerian recipients of the US funding program and is receiving
refurbished refrigeration facilities to store antiretroviral
drugs. US money, said Tobias, will focus on improving
"physical and human infrastructure to address the pandemic."
Hospital personnel showed Tobias a three-day old baby found
abandoned by its HIV-positive mother. "It's been the pattern
we have been seeing these days," said Dora Okechukwu, head of
the pediatric section. "HIV/AIDS positive mothers give birth
and then they abandon the babies" because of either stigma or
the financial burden to the impoverished mother, explained
Okechukwu. "We are seeing a gradual build-up and we are very
worried," she added.
Tobias also met with President Olusegun Obasanjo Friday
morning as part of his three-nation African trip.