By Luminous Jannamike
ABUJA – The United States Agency for International Development, USAID, the World Health Organisation, WHO, and other stakeholders in the Stop Tuberculosis (TB) Partnership, on Tuesday, deliberated on ways to ensure increased financing to end TB scourge in Nigeria.
The USAID Health Finance Advisor, Dr. Frances Ilika, at a high-level roundtable, which held in Abuja, advocated greater domestic financing for TB programmes.
“If we really want to eliminate tuberculosis in Nigeria, there is need to increase local sources of funds. There is a high dependence on donor-funding for tuberculosis interventions in the country. But the sad part of the story is that donor-funding is not enough and it is gradually dwindling.
“It is also necessary to include tuberculosis as part of ailments covered by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Act. Key players in the private sector such as Chevron Nigeria Limited can do more through their corporate social responsibility towards contributing to the elimination of TB in the country,” she said.
In a similar vein, the National Programme Officer in charge of tuberculosis at WHO, Dr. Ayodele Awe, said local ownership of the challenge TB program was necessary to ensure sustainable mobilization of domestic resources.
He further called for advocacy at the highest levels of government in order to boost domestic support for TB interventions.
“Domestic ownership of the TB program is very important to ensure we surmount the challenges of financing TB programs in Nigeria. That is why it is important for us to take TB advocacy to the highest levels of government. We also need to gather partners together and improve synergy among different stakeholders so that we can leverage on each others’ strengths and resources,” he said.
On his part, the House of Representative Chairman on Tuberculosis and Malaria, Emmanuel David Ombugadu, said the answer to sustainable financing of tuberculosis lay with the National Assembly.
“The civil society and critical stakeholders need to engage more with members of the legislature in the effort to eliminate tuberculosis in Nigeria. For instance, one single amendment to the NHIS Act can secure universal coverage for all TB cases in Nigeria. The best way to guarantee local funding of TB is through legislative and constitutional means.”