By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja
Spokesperson of the House of Representatives, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, Saturday said that United Nations, UN, High Level Meeting (HLM) on Tuberculosis and Global TB Caucus has assured of parliamentary support to end the scourge in Nigeria.
The assurance was given at the official pre-meeting of the Stop TB Partnership Board Event organized by the Global TB Caucus held virtually on September 23rd, 2021.
The event was a call for stakeholders to reflect on the journey towards achieving the United Nations High Level Meeting (HLM) on Tuberculosis targets to align their actions with the current realities most especially with the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was also in furtherance of the meeting held in 2018 where world leaders, international Organizations, civil society and affected communities were part of the first ever High Level Meeting on Tuberculosis (HLM on TB), at the United Nations General Assembly.
It will be recalled that in October 2020, the United Nations Secretary-General (UNSG) released a report prepared by the World Health Organization (WHO), with data showing the progress made after the 2018 meeting and where the stand of the global leaders in achieving the targets agreed in the HLM on TB.
The meeting had in attendance over 60 representatives of various countries around the world.
Speaking on advancing TB priorities at the national level through parliamentary actions and partnerships, Kalu who represented the Nigerian parliament highlighted that despite the commitments of Heads of State and Governments during the UN HLM on TB in 2018, the realities have continued to pose a threat to the achievement of the set targets especially with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said “Despite these already existing challenges, it is no longer news that the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically affected our health care systems and services, thereby reversing the gains we were beginning to make as countries.
“During the peak of covid-19 pandemic, TB services were massively disrupted, this was further complicated by the stigma, misinformation, rumors, fake news and also a lot of confusion as a result of the similarities in the symptoms of COVID-19 and Tuberculosis.
“However, the National TB program was able to overcome these challenges by strengthening the network of private sectors, community workers and partnership with the Nigeria Center for disease Control (NCDC) by integrating TB program into some components of Covid19 control measures.”
The lawmaker who represents Bende Federal Constituency of Abia State added that the National Assembly through its legislative activities, collaborations and partnerships remained committed to battling the pandemic and every other disease squarely.
“So far, the National Assembly of Nigeria through the AIDS, Tuberculosis and malaria control committee and other health related committees is doing everything possible through legislative actions to ensure that the country responds to the pandemic adequately, leaving no disease and no one behind.
“Nigeria as a country is working relentlessly towards achieving the UN HLM targets through close working relationships between in-country stakeholders, and relevant ministries, departments and agencies of government.
“The outcomes of these partnerships are evident in the different advocacy efforts, programs interventions, country specific plans and roadmaps that have been developed since the UN HLM”, Kalu said.
He further urged the Federal Government and other relevant ministries, departments and agencies of government to ensure effective and efficient implementation of tuberculosis-related policies, including improving government funding as well as other priority interventions in the health sector.
The lawmaker also assured them that the parliament will prioritize the advocacy as members of the Global TB Caucus towards ending the endemic at the global, regional and national levels.