Experts say there is an urgent need to leaverage more in the fight against tuberculosis in Nigeria following the gradual neglect that is setting in as a result of the global attention been focused on Covid 19 vaccination. Immediate past Chairman stop TB Partnership in Nigeria, Dr. Ayodele Awe, believes that a more robust engagement among the three tiers of government the media and other relevant stakeholders in the health sectors is apt to go a step further to Increase public awareness on the issues of tuberculosis in Nigeria.
According to him, Nigeria has the highest TB burden in Africa, ranking sixth globally and is a high burden country for TB-HIV Co-Infection and MultidrugResistant TB (MDR-TB) and one major challenge in the TB response in Nigeria is low TB case detection hence there is need to build more synergy with development partners as well as relevant bodies in the fight against TB in Nigeria. Marking this year’s World Tuberculosis Day, Dr. Ayodele opined that it is imperative to get more stakeholders involved with the public on case detection ,management and as well as get more commitment from the part of government so much focus can be built on tuberculosis such that people will get to know that having tuberculosis is not a death sentence but that the disease is curable hence people should come out from their hiding and get tested what they show symptoms of tuberculosis.
According to him research has it, that 157 thousand Nigerians died of tuberculosis unlike the other disease Covid 19 which killed about 2,000 people. To this end, this week long commemoration of the World TB Day, avails the Stop TB Partnership to intensify more on her efforts to reach out to as many as possible on the need to fight against the chronic disease.
For the Chairman, as part of the activities to mark the Day, a lot of advocacy is put in motion especially at the community level where 75% cases are drawn from. This is so because the community is where the cases are, people are coughing and do not know they have TB.
According to him, the private sector will not be left out in this regard knowing that there are a lot of private sectors who have corporate social responsibility CSR in their programmes, with that ,it will be a passionate call to them for assistance in spreading the message to the community level for them to know that TB still exist, it is not a killer disease ,as such victims in this regard should make themselves available for treatment. In another development, Dr. Bernard Odume of the KNCV TB Foundation, a local non profitable organization that is saddled with responsibility for fighting TB in Nigeria, highlighted some possible TB control which are doable and important if relevant authorities see it as a necessity to focus more on containing the surge in Nigeria. He maintained that there was an urgent need to scale up TB service provisions in public and private facilities as well as in communities, as well as integrate TB services into Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health and Nutrition (RMNCAH+N) services and non-communicable disease control.
He said the World TB day is a global event commemorated on the 24th of March every year to raise public awareness on TB and efforts made to prevent and treat the disease of which this year’s celebration also gives an opportunity to assess progress towards achieving the END TB strategy and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets. In the same light,as part of activities marking this year’s World Tuberculosis Day, the DG Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu at the ministerial briefing organized by the National TB and Leprosy Control Programme NTBLCP, called for a more sustained efforts in tackling the problem of TB informing that Nigeria accounts for about 11% of the global gaps of TB incident cases globally.
According to him,this year’s World TB Day provides another opportunity to restrategize because the TB and Covid 19 share similar symptoms hence there is the need to have appropriate diagnosis for both diseases and an end to stop the spread. He added that a patient may be suffering from both Covid 19 and TB without knowing, as such the theme of this year’s World TB Day”The click is ticking” is a call for stakeholders,communities and we’ll spirited individuals to join hands with the NTBLCP and the ministry of health to make funding available for TB programmes as well as combat the deadly disease.
Accordingly the minister of health, Sen Mamora Olorunibe, TB remains a major public health problem globally and, due to the large population and prevailing socio-economic determinants of health, Nigeria is ranked 1st in Africa and 6th globally in the 2020 WHO Global TB report, among the 30 high TB burden countries and Nigeria is also on the list of 14 countries with the triple burden of TB, HIV associated TB and multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). Mamora noted that the main drivers of the TB burden in Nigeria are under-nutrition, HIV, diabetes, smoking and alcohol use, with over 400,000 estimated TB cases in 2019, stressing that the working age group of Nigerians, 15 – 44 years, is most affected by TB morbidity and mortality, with over 150,000 estimated TB deaths in 2019.
The minister emphasised that tackling TB is highly prioritised in Nigeria In line with government’s effort to ensure good health and well-being for all Nigerians as envisioned in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3, the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), through the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP) and with the support of partners, has initiated a number of interventions with some remarkable achievements. He stated that part of the interventions is to improve access to TB services with increased number of installed GeneXpert machines from 32 in 2012 to 403 currently, with an additional 102 machines expected. He added that the Government of Nigeria (GoN) has stepped up TB response in line with the commitment made by President Muhammadu Buhari to END TB, at the first-ever United Nations High-level Meeting (UNHLM) on TB in September, 2018, as such they are implementing a plan that translates the commitments into action, and were able to achieve 73% of our UNHLM TB case finding target for 2019.
He said the priorities of government for tuberculosis are to:ensure continuity of TB services through provision of integrated TB and COVID-19 services especially for of awareness creation, contact tracing and diagnosis; Scale-up demand creation for TB services through regular airing of TB jingles in radio and television stations. He stressed that The theme of world TB day this year is “The clock is ticking”, fully aligns with the upcoming Unified Branded TB Umbrella Campaign and National Guidelines for TB Advocacy, Communication and Social Mobilisation. He further reiterated this administration is very committed to working assiduously with partners to mobilise the needed resources for TB eradication in Nigeria.
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