- Efforts by the government of Benin to stem the rising incidence of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections have been strengthened by African financing. Benin plans to "reduce or at least help to stabilise the rate of prevalence of AIDS" within short time.
In Benin, the HIV/AIDS epidemic has for some years slowly been infiltrating the country, especially along the regional highways connecting it to Nigeria, Niger and Togo. While Benin still is not worst off in the West African region, authorities recently launched a strategic plan to combat the disease and thus avoid a larger disaster.
Benin's HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan aims at reducing "or at least help to stabilise the rate of prevalence of AIDS" in the country at a relatively low level. Authorities thus hope to "reduce its socio-economic impact on the populations."
Objectives of the government plan include providing full anti-retroviral treatment to at least 75 percent of HIV-positive women who attend pre-natal clinics in order to prevent mother-to-child transmission; and to conduct, in conformity with national directives, HIV tests on 100 percent of blood samples meant for transfusion
Finally, Beninese authorities plan to "increase by at least 20 percent the number of households with chronically sick who have received free external assistance to cater for the patient or to compensate for lost revenue in the past 12 months."
While the country has set high aims in fighting AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, the financial basis of the strategic plan has so far been limited. Yesterday, however, government efforts received a major boost with a grant from the African Development Fund (ADF) and Bank (ADB).
The Vice President of the African Development Bank (ADB), Bisi Ogunjobi, and the Beninese Minister of Finance and Economy, Gregoire Laourou, yesterday signed an agreement for a grant of US$ 3.94 million in Tunis, where the Bank is headquartered.
Speaking at the ceremony, Mr Ogunjobi said the grant would "support Benin's poverty reduction strategy," which makes the fight against HIV/AIDS one of the priorities in efforts to endow the country with indispensable human resources for its social and economic development.
- More specifically, the project in support of the fight against HIV/AIDS aims to contribute to the implementation of preventive measures, development of traditional medicine and provide support to structures charged with the fight against HIV/AIDS, Mr Ogunjobi said at the ceremony.
He further expressed the hope that Benin's government would do its best to ensure that conditions for the disbursement of the funds are "met as soon as possible" so that the project will take off within the shortest possible time. Benin has a long record of receiving conditional loan and grant consents, which later not are effectuated as disbursement conditions are not met.
In his intervention, Beninese Minister Laourou described the ADF grant as "a concrete testimony of the vitality of the cooperation" between the Bank Group and Benin, emphasising that the ADB had emerged as one of the foremost development partners of his country after the World Bank.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.