By Hassan Zaggi
Concerned by the high burden of Tuberculosis (TB) in Nigeria, plans have been concluded for experts in TB control from all over the world to converge in Abuja, to deliberate on the best strategies to control the disease.
TB is one of the top priority diseases in Nigeria as the country is said to be one of the 10 high burden countries for TB, TB/HIV and multi-drug resistant TB in 2021.
Nigeria has an estimated 440,000 TB cases of which only 117,320 were diagnosed and notified.
The conference which scheduled to hold from November 9-11 is being put together by the Stop TB Partnership in Nigeria.
At a media briefing in Abuja, yesterday, the Chairman of the Scientific Section of the Conference, Prof. Lawal Umar, disclosed that the conference is open to all stakeholders in TB control, the world over.
The conference, according to him, “brings together all stakeholders from within and outside Nigeria working to end TB in the country.
“It provides opportunity to deliberate on topical issues in TB control, foster and harness inter-sectoral and institutional collaboration for TB control in Nigeria.
“The National TB conference 2021 will provide a platform for all stakeholders to deliberate on the magnitude and dimensions of the effects of the pandemic on TB control in Nigeria.
“It will also create an opportunity to learn lessons from experiences within and from other countries, and to come up with strategies to address TB control during the current and future pandemics.”
The objectives of the Conference, he said, is to create an avenue to foster access to research, technologies and innovations in TB control in Nigeria; stimulate the generation of new collaborations for home-grown TB research and innovations; provide a forum to improve synergy, collaboration and integration between TB, HIV and other services; create awareness and promote best practices in TB programming in Nigeria; provide platform to foster the design of evidence-based policies for improved TB control in Nigeria in the context of the COVID-19 and other pandemics; and leverage on the experiences, resources and strategies deployed in the country’s COVID-19 response to reinvigorate TB control efforts.
Speaking, the Chairman, Central Planning Committee of the 2021 TB Conference, Dr. Odume Bethrand, lamented that funding constraints have remained the key challenge towards combatting TB in Nigeria.
According to him, over the past five years, TB control has been driven largely by external funding sources.
He, however, insisted that: “To meet the estimated funding gap along with other pertinent issues, there is need to create an avenue to foster access to research, technologies, innovations and build collaboration/partnership for TB control in Nigeria.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had varying short and long-term impacts on health including TB services in Nigeria.
“Some of the direct effect on the TB programme reported include the disruption of access to TB services as a result of prolonged periods of lockdown, treatment interruption potentially breeding drug-resistance, as well as the effect on stigma for both healthcare workers and clients amongst many others.”
The conference, Bethrand, stressed: “Provides a platform for the National TB and Leprosy Control Programme and all stakeholders to deliberate on the magnitude and dimensions of the effects of the pandemic and other diseases on TB control in Nigeria.
“It will also create an opportunity to learn lessons from experiences within and other countries, and to come with strategies to address TB control during the current and future pandemics.”