The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has renewed its commitment to assist the Federal Ministry of Health to find and treat thousands of missing tuberculosis cases in Nigeria.
Ms Minal Amin, Group Lead, Tuberculosis and Resource Mobilisation, USAID Nigeria, made this known in Abuja while briefing newsmen as part of the activities to commemorate the 2018 World Tuberculosis Day.
Amin said USAID has been supporting the government of Nigeria’s response to tuberculosis since 2003; adding that USAID had a shared goal with government on reducing tuberculosis related deaths and disability.
She said the agency was committed to support the National TB and Leprosy Control Programme in reaching its ambitious goal of ending tuberculosis in Nigeria.
She commended the minister of health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, for his giant stride of declaring 2017 as a year accelerated tuberculosis finding.
According to her, the agency has expended over 100 million dollars to support TB response programme in the past 15 years.
“We look forward to the continued partnership and relationship with the government of Nigeria in making significant strides on TB control,’’ she said.
Prof. Dipo Ladipo, Chief Executive Officer, Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH), said tuberculosis detection in Nigeria was running at a level about 17 per cent due to many reasons.
He said ARFH was a principal recipient of the Global Fund, and the association was working with the National TB and Leprosy Control Programme to improve awareness on TB at national, state and local levels.
Ladipo added that the association via a funding from Global Fund was also working to improve TB detection rate and refer suspected cases to diagnostic centres for treatment.
He, therefore, urged the media and other key stakeholders to evangelise tuberculosis and make it more visible public health concern because of the magnitude of the problem and mode of transmission.
While speaking on the theme of the 2018 world tuberculosis day, Ladipo said religious leaders should play a leadership role to support the government by disseminating information about tuberculosis in mosques and churches.
He also urged government to increase domestic funding of the tuberculosis response programme and encourage local production of TB drugs, stressing that most of the TB drugs in Nigeria are provided by donor agencies.
According him, the TB partnership in Nigeria has worked tirelessly to reach the level where we are now; we require additional funding from the government to complement what the donors are doing.
Dr Adebola Lawanson, National Coordinator, National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme, said Nigeria has the highest burden of tuberculosis in Africa and it was ranked seventh in the world.
Lawanson, represented by Muhammad Ahmad, a Deputy Director, said the federal government in collaboration with partners provided quality patient centred prevention, treatment and support free of charge.
She said in spite of interventions by government, 2017 WHO Global TB report revealed that Nigeria was among the 10 countries that accounted for 64 per cent of the global gap in TB case finding.
“Nigeria alone accounted for almost half of the total gap.
“In 2017, Nigeria notified a total of 104 904 TB cases which is only 26 per cent of the estimated 407,000 cases for the country in 2017,’’ she said.
The 2018 world tuberculosis day would be observed on March 24, to commemorate the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch announced his discovery of the germ that causes TB diseases.