The World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday lamented that many nations including Nigeria is yet to fulfil its promise made in 2018 at the United Nations High Level meeting (UNHLM) to diagnose and treat over 1.1 million TB cases and place about 2.2 million clients on TB preventive Therapy (TPT) from 2018 to 2022.
According to WHO country representative, Nigeria, Dr Walter Kazadi mulombos in his speech to mark this hears Tuberculosis day in Abuja, the country is far away from achieving these targets with less than 2 years to go.
He noted further, Low TB case detection remain a major challenge in the TB control efforts in Nigeria with the country only detecting 27% of the estimated incident TB cases. “The un-detected TB cases can further constitute pool of reservoir that fuel on-going transmission of TB in the community, as one undetected infectious TB case is able to infect between 12 – 15 people per year.
The worst, he added is that TB control budgets in Nigeria continue to be drastically underfunded with about 70% of the TB budget in 2020 being unfunded, this is a major threat to the country efforts in achieving the set targets
“Too many people are pushed into poverty when they contract TB due to lost income, transport costs and other expenses. 71% of the TB patients in Nigeria and their household are affected by catastrophic cost due to TB.
“Tuberculosis is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide and the leading cause of death from a single infectious agent (ranking above HIV/AIDS). Globally, there are an estimated 10 million people with TB in 2019, with Nigeria and seven other countries accounting for two thirds of the global total”
Dr.Molombos added that despite some level of progress made by the country in TB control amidst the Covid -19 pandemic, it still needs to celerate TB response to reach the set targets in the 2021-2025 National TB Strategic Plan and to realize the commitments made by His Excellency, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at the first-ever UN High Level Meeting on TB in 2018.
“Collective action across sectors is crucial to address the challenges and accelerate progress towards ending TB in Nigeria by 2030. Determinants of health such as poverty, undernutrition, tobacco smoking, and co-morbidities such as HIV continue to drive the TB epidemic. This is why WHO developed the multisectoral accountability framework and is supporting all countries to update their TB policies and to implement WHO guidelines.
“The WHO will continue to support Nigeria in developing and implementing guidelines, plans, framework and strategic documents to end TB epidemic in Nigeria. In addition, we will facilitate researches to provide evidence-based interventions and innovations for finding the missing TB cases and enhancing the country efforts in reaching the set targets.
“The WHO is currently working with the programme in data analysis towards formulating evidence-based policies for enhancing programme performance at the all levels. We will continue to support this and in addition monitor programmes in real-time, to identify challenges and advise on strategies to address the challenges.
“The organization in collaborations with our partners will also step-up action in supporting the FMOH to mobilize the needed domestic and international resources required for ending TB in Nigeria.
“Finally, let me pledge WHO’s continue support in strengthening partnership and innovations towards the attainment of the set targets and as well as successfully leverage on the country’s primary health care strengthening initiatives to end TB epidemic in Nigeria.
” Tuberculosis is curable and treatable; I implore anyone coughing for two weeks or more to go for TB test in the nearest health facility. Ladies and Gentlemen of the press kindly spread this news around. Together we can end TB epidemi