By SOLA OGUNDIPE
The Global Fund, a key partner in the National Tbberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme, NTBLCP, has raised alarm over the increasing cases of untreated Multiple Drugs Resistance – Tuberculosis, MDR-TB, in Nigeria.
The development, which is currently threatening the survival of an estimated 250 patients with untreated cases of MDR-TB, is believed to be a direct consequence of delays by the Federal government in releasing funds for procurement of the 2nd line drugs specifically required for treating MDR-TB, under the NTBLCP initiative.
The funding deficit coupled with the nation’s slow payment process for the 2nd line drugs,are allegedly causing a build up of new patients waiting for the urgently required life-saving drugs and threatening the nation’s overall tuberculosis control effort
Already, fears are making the rounds of an imminent and total collapse of efficacy of the common first-line TB drugs such as Isoniazid and Rifampicin.
Data by the World Health Organisation, WHO, shows Nigeria is ranked 4th out of 22 countries with 75 per cent of the global burden of TB. About 36 per cent of TB cases are detected with over 60 per cent untreated in the country and the escalating cases of MDR-TB cases currently constitutes a major source of worry.
Every year, an estimated three million TB cases are classified as undiagnosed, untreated and undocumented.
Raising concerns over the nations’ growing MDR-TB Drug crisis the Head, Grant Management Division, Global Fund, Mark Eldon-Edinton, urged Federal government to live up to its commitment and expedite action on the release of funds for treatment of the disorder.
In a letter to the Minister of Health, Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu, who is Chairman, Country Coordinating Mechanism, CCM, Eldon-Edington strongly urged government to adopt an automatic procurement and payment method for 2nd line drugs in order to prevent future occurrence of the crisis.
“I’m writing to express great concern about the ongoing MDR-TB drug crisis in Nigeria due to delays in the release of funds for the procure ment of 2nd line drugs by government,” he noted.
Eldon-Edington said the Global Fund financing is based on the principle of additionality and has been programmed taking into account the government’s own commitment. has invested.
He said a total of US$ 147 million signed in TB grants of which US$103 million has been disbursed to fund diagnosatic capacity and scale up of first and second line treatment and care. Under the funding model, an additional US$117 million has been allocated for TB control in Nigeria.
“For the period January 2013 -mid 2015, the NTBLCP budgeted 2nd line drugs for 1,200 patients with 500 cures to be procured by the Ministry of Health and 700 funded by the Global Fund. By end of 2013, a total of 552 patients had been culmulatively enrolled for 2nd line treatment primarily financed byu the Global fund, while the goivernment funding for the 2nd line treatment drugs is pending and the number of new patients waiting for treatyment rapidly increasing; now reaching 250 of untreated drug resistant cases.
“Honourable Minister, I seek your urgent action to expedite the release of funds and the payment process for the 2nd line drugs as per the government’s commitment. With the number of untreated patients increasing by day, out joint TB control efforts are undermined and we are paving way to an even more dangerous and more costly Extensive Drug Resiostant, XDR-TB, crisis in Nigeria.
“While the Global Fund has been requested to fund the roll out of new GeneXpert technology in this country, which provides opportunity for setting up a routine Drug Resistant TB surveillance system, the provisdion of treatment and care will nmeed to be stepped up in parallel. We would much appreciate hearing from you how this is reflected in the 2014 government budget,” Eldon-Edington remarked.