By Esther Atani, The Sight News
ABUJA—There have been great strides made in controlling the spread of tuberculosis in Nigeria with the introduction of new technologies, better local awareness and the practice of building strong collaborations with health organizations and other stakeholders in the fight against TB.
Nigeria has made progress with TB/HIV collaborative activity and currently 96% of people with TB in Nigeria and 82% of people presumed to have TB in Nigeria know their HIV and TB status.
However the treatment coverage of TB infected people has remained at a low 25 percent and case notifications have stagnated over the last five years according to World Health Organization (WHO) – disturbing statistics for an airborne communicable disease currently affecting people of ages 15 to 45 the most.
These were the concerns raised by the Board Chairman, Stop TB Partnership Nigeria, Professor Lovett Lawson at the 2019 National TB Conference held in Abuja on Thursday
Professor Lawson stated that this year’s conference was held to build on the successes recorded in the maiden edition (held in 2016), saying that more efforts were needed in multi stakeholder engagement in TB control in the country.
According to him, “For Nigeria to join other nations in moving towards the 2035 global TB control target, we must all join hands in every capacity to create awareness, improve access to care and more importantly bring on board other key stakeholders in addressing the funding gap”.
While commending the efforts of Stop TB Partnership Nigeria, the Executive Director of Stop TB Partnership Geneva, Dr Lucica Ditiu called on Nigeria to leverage the huge potential for high level visibility for TB through political involvement and leadership. She also asked for the involvement of key Nigerian players on the international level in the fight against TB.
Also speaking, the Chair of African Parliamentary TB Caucus, Hon Steven Mule charged the parliamentary arm of government to create platforms for awareness and TB action through policy and a mobilization of domestic resources.
Expressing concern over the decline of donor funding, he recommended more domestic funding activities and increased involvement of the private health sector as 60% of Nigerians seek healthcare there.
The First Lady of Nigeria, Mrs. Aisha Buhari who was represented by her Chief of Staff, Dr Hajo Sani made a commitment to position the eradication of TB in the country’s political agenda and leverage her position to secure more funding and resources instrumental to bridging the 310 million funding gap in Nigeria’s TB control.
Addressing the media at a briefing after the conference, the Chair of the National TB Conference Planning Committee, Dr Odume Bethrand commended members of the press for making the two-day conference a success and admonished the media as fellow “TB fighters”, to continue to educate the public about TB and their part to play in eradicating it.