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2005-02-24-Nigeria expands Aids drugs help
Nigeria plans a drastic increase in the number of people living with HIV and Aids that receive anti-retroviral drugs, the health minister says.
Currently 14,000 Nigerian get subsided drugs but this year the number will rise to 100,000, Eyitayo Lambo said.
Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, began providing anti-retrovirals in 2002, through 25 treatment centres.
But they still only meet the needs of a small fraction of the estimated four million HIV-positive Nigerians.
Mr Lambo said he hopes the increased provision will be partly funded by the UN's Global Fund and the World Health Organization (WHO).
"Council today decided that we should scale up the treatment [...] to 100,000 HIV-positive patients this year," Mr Lambo said.
Under the programme, the state subsidises the cost of generic versions of the drugs, made in India, reducing the monthly cost of treatment to about $7 per patient.
Mr Lambo said that by 2007 Nigeria hopes to have 350,000 people on the programme.
Last year the country unveiled its first plant to manufacture affordable generic anti-retroviral drugs, built with funds from Nigerian expats living in the US.