March 24, 2021

Reps want NHIS to cover TB treatment

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National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS,

The House of Representatives on Wednesday urged the Federal Government to include Tuberculosis (TB) in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) package.

The call was sequel to unanimous adoption of a motion by Rep. Benjamin Kalu (APC-Abia) at the plenary in Abuja.

The lawmakers said that the call became necessary as TB qualify as a disease of high burden and public health concern.

Kalu, who moved the motion, noted that the World Tuberculosis Day is celebrated annually on March 24, to re-assess efforts and encourage a strong engagement of stakeholders on the disease.

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He said that tuberculosis affects the lungs and over the years, had been associated with mortality even though it is curable and preventable.

Quoting the World Health Organisation (WHO), Kalu said that tuberculosis was one of the top 10 causes of death and leading cause of a single infectious agent above HIV/AIDS

The legislator said that in 2019, an estimated 10 million people fell ill with TB worldwide, while 1.4 million people died from the bacteria same year.

According to him, TB is the leading killer of people living with HIV and it is present in all countries and affecting all age groups.

Kalu, however, said that approximately, 60 million lives were saved through TB diagnosis and treatment between 2000 and 2019.

He said in Nigeria, 127,000 people died from TB in 2019, while 27,000 others died from HIV/AIDS complications.

Kalu said that same year, an estimated 440,000 people in the country live with tuberculosis of which 285,000 were men and 155,000 women.

He said that 83,000 of the figure were below 14 years.

“The multidrug-resistant TB (MDR–TB) is a public health crisis and threat as a total of 21,000 people with Multidrug and Rifampicin-Resistant TB (MDR/RR–TB) was diagnosed in 2019.

“Out of the 440,000 TB cases, only 120,300 were registered, leaving 319 700 undiagnosed and untreated cases which could result in the spread of the disease in Nigeria.

“In spite of these realities, funding for the control of TB in Nigeria over the years has been largely donor dependent due to government’s underfunding of the health sector as well as its failure to fulfill its commitments under the Abuja Declaration of 2001.

“In 2019, out of the $384,000,000 required for TB response in Nigeria, $88,320,000 representing (23 per cent) was provided by international donors while only a meagre $26,880 representing (7 per cent) was mobilised from domestic sources, leaving $268,800,000 (70 per cent) unfunded.

“As a result of the underfunding of TB in Nigeria, a large number of health facilities do not currently have any form of TB services being rendered.

“Although TB is a preventable, treatable and curable disease, people living with TB in Nigeria often have to endure stigma and discrimination and mindful that ending the TB epidemic by 2030 is one of the health targets of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of which Nigeria is a signatory,” he said.

The house urged the Federal Ministry of Health and other relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDGs) to ensure effective and efficient implementation of tuberculosis related policies.

It also called for improvement in government funding and ensuring inclusion of TB in the minimum primary health care service package and other priority interventions in the health sector.

The green chamber mandates the Committees on HIV, Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria Control, Healthcare Services, and Health Institutions to interface with stakeholders, relevant professionals and the public on the matter.

It urged the committee to determine the appropriate legislative intervention required for improved TB control and to mitigate the impact of COVID–19 on tuberculosis, especially the MDR–TB.

It also directed the committees to effectively address stigma and all forms of discrimination against people living with TB.

The Speaker of the house, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, mandated the committee to report back within six weeks for further legislative action.

Vanguard News Nigeria