By Micheal Eboh
The Federal Government in partnership with Star Deepwater Petroleum Limited and its venture partners in the Agbami field project have restated their commitment to eradicating Tuberculosis completely from Nigeria by 2035.
Minister of Health, Mr, Isaac Adewole, and the Agbami Partners stated this in Abuja at an event to mark the World Tuberculosis Day and the commissioning of the GeneXpert Laboratory for the diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis at the Kuchigoro Primary Healthcare centre, Abuja.
Since 2010, Chevron companies in Nigeria as well as the Agbami partners have been building ultra-modern chest clinics fitted with x-ray machines, to eradicate the spread of tuberculosis and other related diseases in Nigeria and had deployed about 25 GeneXpert machines nationwide to fast-track testing rates across the nation.
In addition to Star Deep Water, other parties to the Agbami unit operations are Famfa Oil Limited, Statoil Nigeria Limited, Petroleo Brasileiro Nigeria Limited and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
Speaking at the event to mark the 2017 World Tuberculosis Day, the Minister of Health said the Federal Government, together with its partners, are increasing the country’s capacity to diagnose and treat tuberculosis, especially drug-resistant variants of the disease.
He stated that so far, the country has about 200 laboratories, specifically for the detection and treatment of tuberculosis, adding that the Federal Government‘s target is to build 774 of such laboratories across the country, making it one in each local government.
He said, “Increasing the number of laboratories means we are increasing our capacity to diagnose the illness and tackle the drug-resistant variants of the disease. What we have done is that we have demystified tuberculosis. We have shown that the fight against the disease can be taken to community level and can be won at that level.”
Adewole declared that the Federal Government had declared war against the disease and would give it the same treatment it is currently giving the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East.
Also speaking, Minister of State for Health, Mr. Osagie Ehanire, disclosed that despite the rising scourge of the disease among vulnerable people over the last two decades, the country had recorded remarkable successes in its efforts at tackling the scourge.
Specifically, he stated that Federal Government had been able to bring about an increase in free access to diagnosis of the ailment and that the launch of the GeneXpert laboratories in health centres across the country had helped in furthering the free diagnosis initiative.
He expressed optimism that the commissioning of the laboratory in Abuja would further contribute to the efforts of the Federal Government’s target to end tuberculosis in the country by 2035.