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Health Experts Lobby For Increase In Domestic Funding For TB To Reduce Burden In Nigeria

…Says Funding Gap Of TB In Nigeria Stands At 70 Per cent

Health experts are lobbying for an advocated for an increase in domestic funding
for Tuberculosis (TB) in Nigeria in order to reduce its burden in the country.

They also reduced that the funding gap of TB in Nigeria currently stands at 70 per cent and Nigeria remains one out of the 30 countries globally with the highest burden of TB.

Experts gave this revelation in Abuja at a virtual advocacy workshop on Drug-Resistance TB (DR-TB) organised by the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP), in collaboration with the Stop TB Partnership Nigeria and the Treatment Action Group (TAG) New York.

The National Coordinator, NTBLCP, Chukwuma Anyaike, stated that the funding gap of TB in Nigeria currently stands at 70 per cent.

While adding that, the country can only boast of 30 per cent funding out of which 23 per cent is from international donors and other partners.

He also stressed that ; “We need support, especially financial support to be able to breach this gap and eradicate the disease.”

According to him;”Tuberculosis is a contagious disease that is caused by a bacterium (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that often affects the lungs.

“Nigeria remains one of the 30 countries globally with the highest burden of TB. She ranks first in Africa with the number of undetected cases.

“Although TB is one of the vaccine-preventable diseases which is also curable, statistics from the WHO show that every year, around 245,000 Nigerians die from TB, and about 590,000 new cases occur (of these, around 140,000 are also HIV-positive)”, he said.

Anyaike further stated that; “Data released by ‘Stop TB Partnership’ in March shows that global treatment and diagnosis of TB cases witnessed a drastic decline in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has infected millions of people worldwide.

“The report also indicates that disruptions in services caused by the pandemic have led to further setbacks in progress already made against the disease.

“Nigeria has only treated 11 per cent of people with drug resistant TB, leaving a gap of 89 per cent.

“He said data show that one case of TB that is left untreated can infect 10 to 15 people in a year depending on the environmental position of such a person.

“We have 440,000 new cases of TB in Nigeria and the highest number of cases we notified was in 2020. If compared with our estimation, you will find out we have above 300,000 cases still missing,” he explained.

He further stated that between 2010 and 2020, 13,407 DR-TB cases have been notified while 9,337 have been placed on treatment.

Anyaike said awareness of TB is still very low as only 27 per cent of Nigerians know about the disease.

While adding that, worthy of note is the gap between diagnosis and enrollment of DR-TB cases which has been largely due to a myriad of factors.

“One of which is the lack of demand for the diagnostic services due to lack of awareness of Tuberculosis amongst the population, stigma, and ignorance of the people in the community about the disease,” he stated.

He,however, noted that the NTBLCP through the support and collaboration of partners and donor agencies has taken laudable steps in reducing the prevalence of the disease through ensuring Universal Health Coverage for DR-TB patients.

“Nigeria adopted the Gene Xpert technology in 2013 for rapid diagnosis of DR-TB with the capacity to diagnose a case within 100 minutes.

He said, “Currently, 403 of these Gene Xpert machines have been procured and deployed across the country to ensure accessibility to rapid molecular diagnosis of presumptive DR-TB”.

Earlier in his remarks , the Executive Secretary of StopTB Partnership, Mayowa Joel, said there are ongoing efforts to eradicate drug-resistant TB which is still high in the country.

He said the dialogue aims to get new recommendations to improve TB case finding and treatments for drug.

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