GFFATM Global AIDS body stops aid to Nigeria over $3.8 million fraud

Seth Faison, the fund's spokesman, said the Nigerian government has promised to repay the money and to prosecute the suspects found to be complicit in the case.

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Media reports say that the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFFATM) has suspended payments to Nigeria's AIDS agency over evidence that $3.8 million was stolen by its workers and consultants.

Seth Faison, the fund's spokesman, said the Nigerian government has promised to repay the money and to prosecute the suspects found to be complicit in the case.

HIV self tests are displayed in a pharmacy in Bordeaux, France, September 15, 2015. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/Files play HIV self tests are displayed in a pharmacy in Bordeaux, France, September 15, 2015. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/Files

 

According to Nigeria CommunicationsWeek, a report by the fund's inspector general says seven government workers and three information technology consultants stole the money over five years between 2010 and 2014. It said the fraud continued because the National Agency for the Control of AIDS did not carry out proper audits.

The Fund's report further revealed that the missing money is 95 percent of the amount budgeted to implement, administer and train users of a web-based reporting platform, but a fraction of the $1.4 billion the fund has spent fighting AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in Nigeria — its biggest recipient.

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Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation of 170 million and has the world's second highest number of people infected with AIDS after South Africa. It also reports one-third of all deaths from malaria in Africa and is among the top 22 countries with the highest number of TB patients.

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Corruption has been a huge problem for Nigeria. Last year, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization accused officials of the Ministry of Health of malpractice and fraud during an audit of 40 percent of the $29 million it spent in the West African nation between 2011 and 2013. Nigeria has to repay GAVI $2.2 million.

A Nigerian charity ProjektHope said the suspension endangers AIDS treatment as only 750,000 of the country's 1.8 million with HIV are receiving antiretroviral drugs, almost all supplied by international charities, according to the Nigeria CommunicationsWeek report.

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