The Nigerian Government has inaugurated the National Plan for translating the government’s commitment at UN High Level Meeting on TB towards ending TB as public health challenge in Nigeria.
The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, supported by World Health Organisation (WHO) and other partners, inaugurated the National Tuberculosis Catastrophic cost Survey.
Adewole, represented by Dr Felix Ogenyi, the Director, General Services, Federal Ministry of Health, said Tuberculosis is a major public health problem in Nigeria.
He noted that the 2018 WHO Global TB report ranked Nigeria as first in Africa and sixth globally amongst countries with the high burden of TB.
He added that Nigeria was among the 30 high TB burden countries and the 14 countries in the world on all the three WHO lists of high burden countries for TB, MDR-TB and TB/HIV.
Adewole said as part of the efforts to address these challenges, President Muhammadu Buhari participated in the first-ever United Nations High Level meeting (UNHLM) on TB that was held in New York, U.S, in September 2018.
He added that the president, along with other leaders, made a firm commitment towards eradicating TB in the world; following the commitments, TB diagnosis, treatment and prevention targets were set for countries.
The minister said government has developed an action plan for translating the UNHLM commitments on TB into action, stressing that the document is to further demonstrate government’s determination to end TB.
The National Coordinator, TB, Leprosy and Bruli Ulcer Control Programme, Dr Adebola Lawanson, said launching the documents would fast-track ending TB as a public health challenge in the country.
She said the programme has translated all the target commitment into state by state commitment so that each state would know what cases they should find and the number of prevention they should undertake
Lawanson noted that control of TB could be confined at health facilities alone.
She said some of the problems of TB control in Nigeria is the social exclusion of people affected by the disease in the society.
“Stigmatization for people with TB is one major risk factor that is leading in the spread of TB in the country” she said.
The national coordinator said that TB patients incur cost in the process of accessing treatment; this should not happen.
According to her, World Health Organisation (WHO) says anyone incurring more than 20 per cent of his or her income to take care of an ailment has also acquired catastrophic cost.
“Catastrophic cost should not happen on TB patients in Nigeria because diagnostic services and drugs were made available at health facilities in many communities to ensure that people access the drugs and services. Nigerians embrace the TB treatment services made available by government and development partners to reduce out of pocket expenses,’’ she said.
She said there were patients who had drugs susceptible TB, they are likely to take the drugs for long and government would provide some logistics for them to ensure that they adhere to treatment.
March 24 of every year is set aside globally as the World TB day.
The day provides opportunity to raise awareness on TB as well as reflect on the progress made in the fight against TB.
The theme for this years’ commemoration is “It’s time”, while the slogan is “Keep the Promise! Find TB! Treat TB”.