Experts urge government to improve funding for tuberculosis

Gloria Essien

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Health experts have urged the federal government to improve its domestic funding to curb Tuberculosis in order to reduce the burden of the disease in the country.

They made the call in Abuja at a meeting on sustainable financing TB in Nigeria.

The event which was organised by the Stop TB Partnership Nigeria in collaboration with the National Tuberculosis, Buruli Ulcer and Leprosy Control Programme and other development partners was set up to discuss new ways of getting domestic funds to sustain TB financing in Nigeria.

Speaking at the event, Prof. Oladapo Ladipo, President/Chief Executive Officer, Association for Reproductive and family Health (ARFH) said the government needed to invest more in the detection and treatment of TB in Nigeria.

” There is a huge funding gap for early TB detection and case finding in Nigeria and this has been having a negative effect on the fight against TB. The country has been largely dependent on international donors for funding TB programmes and such is no longer acceptable especially with the funding glowing lean on yearly basis. “. He lamented.

On her part, Dr. Frances Ilika, said that Nigeria contributes only five per cent of the total funds used in TB programmes in the country.

According to her, there is a ”funding gap of about 35 per cent; 60 per cent of TB funds used in the country are donated by international partners. In 2017, Nigeria needed $336 million to fight the disease. Unfortunately, the TB programme was unable to get half of it”.

Ms. Ilika said that government needs to provide a good primary health care system where Nigerians can get right diagnosis and treatment to reduce the financial burden on the citizens.

“We need to make the health insurance cover TB, this would provide more funding for detection. Only about 20 per cent of PHCs have TB DOT (detection and treatment) centres. Many does not even have the Gene- Xpert machine to assist with detection of the disease, it is no longer acceptable if we are to reduce TB burden in the country. We need local funding partners, federal government, state governments and private entities need to come on board. TB is a disease that can affect anyone around us, it will be part of the test to look out for when any one goes to the healthcare for treatment,” she added.

According to World Health Organisation, Nigeria is one of the highest TB burdened countries in the world. Nigeria ranks sixth among countries with highest global burden.

According to the global TB report 2017 released by WHO, there were an estimated 10.4 million new TB cases worldwide in 2016, 10 per cent of which were people living with HIV/AIDS.

Of these new cases, seven countries are noted to account for 64 per cent of the total burden. India topped the chart followed by Indonesia, China, Philippines, Pakistan, Nigeria and South Africa.

Meanwhile an estimated 1.7 million people died from TB, including nearly 400 000 people who were co-infected with HIV.

Quick facts about Tuberculosis

1. Tuberculosis is partly preventable by vaccine

2. The bacteria that cause TB are spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

3. Most people infected with bacteria that cause tuberculosis do not have symptoms.

4. When symptoms do occur, they usually include a cough, sometimes blood-tinged, weight loss, night sweats and fever.

5. Treatment is not always required for these without symptoms.

6. Patient with active symptoms will require a long course of treatment involving multiple antibiotics.

7. If you do not take the drugs correctly, the germs that are still alive may become difficult to treat with those drugs. It takes at least six months and possibly as long as one year to kill all the TB germs.

8. If you have TB, don’t drink alcohol — it can add to the risk of liver damage from some of the drugs used to treat your TB.

9. Tuberculosis is curable and preventable. About one-third of the world’s population has latent TB, which means people have been infected by TB bacteria but are not (yet) ill with disease and cannot transmit the disease.

10. People infected with TB bacteria have a lifetime risk of falling ill with TB of 10 per cent.

11. You cannot get TB germs from: Sharing drinking containers or eating utensils. TB is NOT spread through shaking someone’s hand, sharing food, touching bed linen or toilet seats, or sharing toothbrushes

The theme of this years world TB day is “Find and Notify all TB cases while the slogan is Wanted: Leaders for a TB-free Nigeria.”