The minister of health Dr Osagie Ehanire has expressed displeasure that the key challenge to the control effort for TB was that TB DOTS services
are only available in 31% of health facilities as the current coverage of GeneXpert machines, the first-line test for TB diagnosis, is barely 41%; 317 out of 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Nigeria.
Minister of State for health, Dr Olorunnibe Mamora
who represented the minister at the briefing to commemorate the 2021 World TB Day, 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.
The minister decried that 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 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 the 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 an 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 a target for 2019.
He said the priorities of the government for tuberculosis are to ensure continuity of TB services through the provision of integrated TB and COVID-19 services especially for awareness creation, contact tracing and diagnosis;
Scale-up demand creation for TB services through the 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”, which 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.