By Luminous Jannamike
ABUJA – No fewer than 581,000 Nigerians have received treatment for Tuberculosis between 2015 and 2020 in 12 states of the country, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has said.
The treatments, which were provided under the Challenge TB programme funded by USAID, marked an increase in coverage of from 15 percent in 2015 to 24 percent in 2020.
Speaking during the Challenge TB closeout ceremony that marked the end of the multi-million Dollar funding in Abuja on Wednesday, Stephen Haykins, USAID Nigeria’s Mission Director, hailed the strides made in trying to eradicate tuberculosis in the country.
“Since 2014, Challenge TB has provided technical support to the National TB programme in 14 states, helping to close gaps in diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis, contributing to improving access to TB services, preventing TB disease progression and strengthening.
“More than 581,000 Nigerians were treated for TB under the Challenge TB’s auspices, and treatment coverage improved from 15 per cent in 2015 to 24 per cent today,” said Haykins.
He added, “When the activity began, public awareness about the disease was very low – only about 30 per cent of Nigerians were aware of the signs and symptoms of TB. In response, Challenge TB set up a National TB contact centre to provide key information about the disease.
“In collaboration with the government and other TB partners, Challenge TB worked to raise awareness, reduce stigma and improve health-seeking behaviours among vulnerable Nigerians.”
He said no one should die from TB as it is treatable, stressing that the USAID would support the Federal Ministry of Health to fulfil President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2018 pledge that 1.2m Nigerians would be under TB treatment by 2022.
Speaking also, Dr. Umoh Ene-Obong, Director of Public Heath at the Ministry, said the Federal Government would continue to implement and upscale the TB case yielding intervention demonstrated by the Challenge TB programme.
“Nigeria has learnt great lessons from the innovative ways of the implementation of this project and we are already bringing them to scale in a sustainable way,” she said.
Challenge TB initiative is a flagship global mechanism for implementing USAID’s TB strategy under the United States President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR).
The lead partner in implementing the grant in Nigeria was the Federal Government’s National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme working closely with collaborating partners.
The collaboration partners are World Health Organisation (WHO), KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation, who were also the prime for the global grant across more than 20 other countries.
In Nigeria, Challenge TB supported the Federal Ministry of Health in aligning project activities to national priorities in the TB-HIV response.