ABUJA-THE World Health Organisation, WHO, Tuesday,regretted that low Tuberculosis case detection was a major challenge in the disease’s control efforts in Nigeria given that the country has detected only 27% of the estimated incident TB cases.
To this end,it said the country was far from archieving its 2025 national target on Tuberculosis.
But in a swift rejection, the federal government said it met 73% case finding target in 2019.
WHO’s representative in Nigeria, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombos, speaking at the TB day ministerial briefing and official launch of the Unified National TB Campaign and ACSM Guideline, in Abuja,noted that poor budgetary funding of TB was a major threat to Nigeria’s achievement of its targets, which was committed to at the United Nations High Level meeting (UNHLM) on TB in 2018.
He warned that the un-detected TB cases can further constitute pool of reservoir that fuel ongoing transmission of TB in the community.
According to him, one undetected infectious TB case is able to infect between 12 – 15 people per year.
“Nigeria at the United Nations High Level meeting (UNHLM) on TB in 2018 made a commitment to diagnose and treat over 1.1 million TB cases and place about 2.2 million clients on TB preventive Therapy (TPT) from 2018 to 2022. The country is far away from achieving these targets with less than two years to go.
“TB control budgets in Nigeria continue to be drastically underfunded. About 70% of the TB budget in 2020 were unfunded, this is a major threat to the country efforts in achieving the set targets,”he said.
His remark came as Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark the 2021 Wold Tuberculosis (TB) Day.
Also,the Federal Government, WHO, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and other international and national TB networks observed that the low TB case detection in the country, was one of the lowest globally.
Commending the 15 percent increase in TB case notifications in the country in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic, he however stressed the need to find the missing cases through surveillance.
USAID Acting Mission Director, Katie Donohoe who reiterated commitment to support Nigeria get control of TB, warned that if detection, diagnosis and treatment of TB was not prioritised and increased, the country may not be able to reach its set targets.
Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire while noting a steady increase in TB notification cases in the last four years, said 73 percent of the TB case finding target Nigeria committed to at the high level UN meeting, was achieved in 2019.
Represented by the Minister of State for Health, Sen. Olorunnimbe Mamora, he however said although over 120,000 new cases of TB was detected in 2019, it constitutes only 27 percent of the estimated cases of TB in the country.
“Efforts have led to steady increase in our annual TB case notification in the last 4 years with the country recording the highest-ever TB case notification of 120,266 TB cases in 2019; a 13% rise from 2018. However, these over 120 thousand TB cases represents only 27% of the estimated cases.
“A key challenge to our control effort has been the slow pace of achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) for TB services. TB DOTS services were only available in 31% of health facilities. The current coverage of GeneXpert machines, the first-line test for TB diagnosis, is barely 41%; 317 out of 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs).”
Global TB champion and Ambassador and First Lady of Nigeria, Aisha Buhari,, urged government at levels, relevant stakeholders and Nigerians to double their efforts to ensure TB was eradicated from Nigeria.