FG assures of prioritizing tackling TB as WHO laments low TB case detection

By Hassan Zaggi

The Federal Government has assured that it is giving high priority in tackling Tuberculosis (TB) in the country.  

The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, gave the assurance at a media briefing to commemorate the 2021 World TB Day in Abuja, Tuesday.

He noted that in an effort to keep TB in check in Nigeria, the federal government has adopted the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations on TB diagnosis and prevention.

Represented by the Minister of State for Health, Sen. Olorunnimbe Mamora, the Minister said: “Tackling TB is highly prioritized in Nigeria. In line with the Federal government effort to ensure good health and well- being of all Nigerians,  the Federal Ministry of Health, through the National TB and Leprosy Control  established the Leprosy and TB Control Programme and with the support of partners has initiated a number of interventions with some remarkable achievements.

“The Federal Government established the National TB and Leprosy Training Centre, Zaria, to undertake human resource development for the control of TB and regular training of health care workers on diagnosis and management of TB including the drug resistant TB.

“To this end, the WHO recommendations on TB diagnosis and prevention has been adapted to provide the overall roadmap for the prevention and control of TB in Nigeria.”

Speaking, the WHO representative in Nigeria, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombos, lamented that low TB case detection remained 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, he reiterated, 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.

He recalled that at the United Nations High Level meeting (UNHLM) on TB in 2018, Nigeria made a commitment 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.

The WHO Representative however, regretted that: “The country is far away from achieving these targets with less than 2 years to go.”

According to him, “TB control budgets in Nigeria continue to be drastically underfunded. About 70% of the TB budget in 2020 were 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.” 

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