By Hassan Zaggi
The First Lady, Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, has called on all stakeholders, including traditional and religious leaders, the academia and civil society organizations to continue to work together in order to put an end to Tuberculosis (TB) in Nigeria.
She also called on government at all levels to provide more resources in order to bridge what she described as, the huge gap for TB funding in Nigeria, Aisha Buhari made the call at the opening ceremony of a two-day National Tuberculosis Conference in Abuja, yesterday.
The conference which was highly attended by experts across the globe was with the theme: “Building Stronger Partnership to End TB in Nigeria.
The wife of the President who lamented that Nigeria currently has the highest number of TB cases in Africa and the 6th highest in the world, said: “I therefore call on all stakeholders including elected and appointed officials, partners, civil society, academia, the media, religious and traditional institutions to work more together to end TB in Nigeria.
“You can always count on my support and I will be available to work together with any of you to end TB in Nigeria.
“As a TB champion, I also use my position to call for more resources for TB from governments at levels in order bridged the huge gap for funding for TB in Nigeria.
“I promise to engage the First Ladies of the 36 states as TB champions for their respective states.”
She insisted that it is not acceptable that Nigeria is still having one of the lowest TB case detection rate in the world, as according to her, “Nigeria is currently detecting only about 25 per cent of the TB cases and with over 170,000 Nigerians die annually from preventable and curable disease.
“This is not an enviable position and situation for any country and it must change. This is why the theme of this conference is very important and strategic as it calls for all stakeholders to work together to build stronger partnership to end TB in Nigeria.”
Speaking, the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Health, Mr Abdullahi Mashi, lamented that TB remains one of the major public health challenges in Nigeria.
Represented by the Director of Public Health in the ministry, Dr Evelyn Ngige, Mashi disclosed that his ministry, through the National TB, Leprosy and Bruli Ulcer Control Programme, established the National TB and Leprosy Training Centre, Zaria, so as to build strong human resource for TB control, among other strategic interventions.
Earlier while welcoming the participants to the conference, the Board Chairman, Stop TB Partnership Nigeria, Prof. Lovett Lawson, disclosed that the conference was to assemble key stakeholders to foster access to research, technologies and innovations in TB control in Nigeria.
Stop TB Partnership Nigeria are the organisers of the conference.
Lawson added that the conference was to provide avenue for generation of new collaboration for home-grown TB research and innovations in TB programming and design of evidence-based policies for improved control.