COVID-19 has complicated efforts at ending TB — Buhari

Calls for urgent Int’l response

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru – Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that efforts at ending a preventable and curable disease like Tuberculosis are now complicated because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To that effect, the President has called on the international community to act in unison with rededicated efforts, using the latest available technology and tools, to address the TB epidemic, one of the leading causes of death worldwide.

In his goodwill message to the roundtable conference of the Board of the “Global Stop TB Partnership”, President Buhari expressed concern that efforts at ending a preventable and curable disease like TB were now complicated because of COVID-19.

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According to him, ‘‘As I mentioned during the UN High-Level Meeting in 2018, it is now even more urgent that the global community, especially the African region, act in unison with rededicated efforts, using the latest available technology and tools to address the TB epidemic.

‘‘Nigeria still ranks amongst those countries bearing the brunt of an increasing burden of TB with a growing number of “missing” TB cases.

‘‘The reversal of Nigeria’s difficult health indices, remains a top priority of this administration, including the gap in TB case detection, fueled partly by the dearth of acceptable, accessible, affordable and patient-centered basic health facilities.”

Apprising the meeting on efforts to reverse TB cases in the country, President Buhari told the roundtable session of Honorable Ministers of Health, during the 33rd Board Meeting of the Global Stop TB Partnership that his government had conceptualized and is currently implementing the Primary Health Care (PHC) revitalization programme, to empower more PHC centres to provide quality basic healthcare in the treatment of TB, HIV, malaria and other health challenges, delivered in a patient-centered way.

He further stated that the Nigerian Government was also implementing the Basic Health Care Provision Fund, prescribed by the National Health Act, to bridge the gap in health care financing, with funds released to support the provision of a basic minimum package of health services.

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He said, “We are also improving funding of health services through voluntary contributory schemes that reduce out of pocket spending and the risk of catastrophic costs to patients and their families including those with TB.”

ail in the fight to reverse the current trend in TB prevalence, TB will continue to fight us and lead to avoidable loss of lives, especially among the economically productive age group, and amongst our most vulnerable groups, especially women.

‘‘It is imperative that we not only commit to ending the TB epidemic as one of the milestones enshrined in the SDGs but also to institute an accountability element to ensure that our commitment translates to the achievement of desired results.’’

He acknowledged that the work of the Stop TB Partnership all over the world has been so remarkable, despite numerous challenges, pledging his commitment to providing needed political leadership and support to end TB in Nigeria and globally.

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