By Francesca Iwambe, Abuja
This was disclosed by stakeholders in the fight against TB at the 2023 Pre- World TB Day Press conference organized by the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme, (NTBLCP), Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with Stop TB Partnership Nigeria.
The Executive Director, KNCV TB Foundation Nigeria Berthrand Odume while expressing worry over the 69 per-cent funding gap emphasised the need for government to prioritise the health needs of all Nigerians.
According to him, despite the progress made, Tuberculosis which is the deadliest infectious disease has remained a significant global health challenge stressing the need for it to be tackled with utmost urgency and responsibility.
“We also need to intensify advocacy to the government and the organised private sector to increase funding for TB program in the country. Funding for TB has remained a key challenge to support program activities towards closing the TB treatment coverage gap which stands at 66 per-cent as at the end of 2021.
“At a 69 per-cent funding gap presently and over reliance on external donor agencies for funding, sustaining the TB program in Nigeria will continue to remain a challenge”, Odume said.
While stressing that the 2023 WTBD theme, ‘Yes! We can end TB and the slogan in Nigeria, get involved' is apt, Odume added that this can be achieved through government, communities and stakeholders buy in.
He said, more education on TB, its symptoms, treatment and diagnosis is required as partnership with the media is key in achieving the goal.
On her part, Dr Queen Ogbuji-Ladipo- Ag. Board Chair, Stop TB Partnership Nigeria in her remark said, despite Nigeria moving closer to achieving the 2022 UN TB target, it was unachievable.
Quoting the WHO's 2022 TB report, she said, the TB mortality rates increased for the second year in a row and that incidence also increased for the first time in more than a decade.
Listing some key areas of focus to achieve results, Dr Ogbuji-Ladipo said; “There are several areas to focus on such as financial needs to scale up implementation and speed up, research and development of new tools including new TB vaccine, access to new rapid molecular diagnosis and to new shorter and more treatment regimens, TB prevention, TB in children, strengthening and funding communities, rights and gender works”.
The World Health Organisation country representative to Nigeria who was represented said, the TB scourge has pushed so many people into poverty.
He affirmed the WHO continued suport to Nigeria saying about 71 per cent of TB patients come from Nigeria.
He called on leaders to take the health of Nigerians serious adding that the cooperation of all Nigerians is required to win the fight against TB.
Also, the National Coordinator, NTBLCP, Dr. Chukwuma Anyaike the National Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Buruli Ulcer Control Programme said, TB remains a huge burden in the country.
Anyaike said, TB can be prevented, diagnosed, treated and cured.
He further stressed the need for continuous awareness towards putting an end to preventable and curable diseases like tuberculosis and to address the needle deaths and infirmities in the country.
Joyce Seember, TB Survivor who recounted her journey to beat TB advised Nigerians to quit the habit of assuming that TB is witchcraft.
She said, early test and detection is key in achieving speedy recovery adding that TB is treatable and curable.
March 24 every year is set aside to raise public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic impact of tuberculosis around the world.