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Health

More domestic, foreign resources needed to end TB in Nigeria – Health Minister

The Federal Government has said it is working to accelerate and scale its current efforts to mobilize the needed domestic and international resources to implement the National TB Strategic Plan 2021-2025.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire disclosed this at the 2021 National TB Conference held in Abuja, where he also tasked the private sector to intensify work on the newly developed data-driven, community TB case-finding strategies.

In 2020, the Nigerian government had introduced the engagement of the private sector, data-driven community TB case findings, integration of TB search in COVID-19 outreaches and active TB and COVID-19 search in health facilities as part of strategies designed alongside partners in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Minister who blamed the 2019 emergence of COVID-19 for the reduction in TB case finding, said Nigeria had a 30% reduction in GeneXpert testing in the first week of the lockdown while the notification on TB cases dropped by 17% from 33,119 TB cases in Q1, 2020 to 27,353 in Q2, 2020.

He, however, said the strategies introduced brought some level of improvement in TB intervention resulting in a 15% increase in the number of cases notified from 120, 266 in 2019 and 138, 59 cases in 2020 across the country.

The milestone, Ehanire says now places Nigeria among countries with an increase in TB notification in 2020, despite the pandemic, a success he believes must be sustained using the theme of the conference; ‘‘Sustaining a Resilient TB Response in Nigeria; Addressing the Impact of COVID-19 and Other Diseases.

“We know that we still have a way to go to reach the targets for ending the TB epidemic and that most of our TB cases are yet undetected.

“We must therefore work with our partners to accelerate and scale up our current efforts significantly, mobilize needed domestic and international resources for implementing the National TB Strategic Plan 2021-2025, to end the TB epidemic in Nigeria.

Despite claims of success in TB case identification, health experts say it appears that TB has been normalized in Nigeria, stressing that the trend must change.

Dr. Isa Gidado, a TB expert and the Executive Director of KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation, asked the federal government to infuse a sense of urgency into its intervention to accelerate responses.

‘‘If Tuberculosis must end in Nigeria, the government must turn its attention to it and invest in it. Show a political commitment to ending it, infuse domestic funds of at least 10% to support all interventions,” he said.

In a keynote address, Prof of Medicine, Abba Abdullahi warned that TB remains among the top 10 causes of death in the country and is largely driven by poverty, economic distress, marginalization and stigma.

He, however, advised that if Nigeria adopts the ‘find and treat model’ used globally, it could prevent about 85% of detected cases.

The Stop TB Partnership had recently informed 21, 000 new cases of Drug-Resistant TB and 8,441 cases of TB in children in Nigeria, warning that 18 Nigerians still die from the disease every hour.

This new index is despite assertions by health experts that TB is curable using the 6 to 12 months treatment plan and is also vaccine-preventable.

The Director, Stop TB Partnership Nigeria, Ayodele Awe, believes the National Conference, which has brought together experts from across the globe is an opportunity to brainstorm on faster ways of ending the disease.(Dailypost)

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