Health experts on Tuesday urged the federal government to improve its domestic funding to curb Tuberculosis in order to reduce the burden of the disease in the country.
The call was made on Tuesday in Abuja at a meeting on sustainable financing TB in Nigeria in commemoration of the World Tuberculosis Day.
The day is usually celebrated March 24.
The event which was organised by the Stop TB Partnership Nigeria in collaboration with the National Tuberculosis, Buruli Ulcer and Leprosy Control Programme and other development partners was set up to discuss new ways of getting domestic funds to sustain TB financing in Nigeria.
Speaking at the event, Oladapo Ladipo, President/CEO Association for Reproductive and family Health (ARFH) said there is a need for the government to invest more in the detection and treatment of TB in Nigeria.
Mr. Ladipo, a professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, said there is a huge funding gap for early TB detection and case finding in Nigeria and this has been having a negative effect on the fight against TB.
He lamented that the country has been largely dependent on international donors for funding TB programmes and ”such is no longer acceptable especially with the funding glowing lean on yearly basis”.
Mr. Ladipo blamed the lack of resources, both finance and human as a reason why most TB cases have not been detected.
“There is no doubt there is a huge funding gap and this is affecting case finding as TB case finding in Nigeria is low. Case finding in Nigeria is low. Not because we do not know what to do, but because some of the resources need to detect the cases are not available.
“There is a huge resource gap, many of the laboratories that can be used to detect the cases are not functional. Most health workers do not have the adequate knowledge to diagnosis or detect the disease even when presented early. There is a need for re-training of most of the health workers and this would be easy for the system if there is adequate funds allocated to the programme,” he said.
Another health speaker, Frances Ilika said Nigeria contributes only five per cent of the total funds used in TB programmes in the country.
According to her, there is a ”funding gap of about 35 per cent; 60 per cent of TB funds used in the country are donated by international partners”.
Ms. Ilika said in 2017, Nigeria needed $336 million to fight the disease. Unfortunately, the TB programme was unable to get half of it.
She said despite the National Strategic Plan for TB 2015-2020 which stipulates that the government will ensure universal access to high quality patient centre for TB prevention, diagnosis and treatment services for Nigeria with all forms of TB, many cases are yet to be detected and many unsuccessfully treated.
“We need to make sure that 50 per cent of domestic funding for TB comes from this country. We cannot keep depending on international partners, we need to seek a sustainable source of funding. There are lots of TB patients walking around in Nigeria without them knowing they are infected.
Ms. Ilika said government needs to provide a good primary health care system where Nigerians can get right diagnosis and treatment to reduce the financial burden on the citizens.
“We need to make the health insurance cover TB, this would provide more funding for detection. Only about 20 per cent of PHCs have TB DOT (detection and treatment) centres. Many does not even have the Gene- Xpert machine to assist with detection of the disease, it is no longer acceptable if we are to reduce TB burden in the country.
”We need local funding partners, federal government, state governments and private entities need to come on board. TB is a disease that can affect anyone around us, it will be part of the test to look out for when any one goes to the healthcare for treatment,” she added.
According to World Health Organisation, Nigeria is one of the highest TB burdened countries in the world. Nigeria ranks sixth among countries with highest global burden.
Two of the major challenges (for Nigeria) have been the inability to detect cases and the battle against drug resistant variants of the ailment especially among people living with HIV/AIDS.
According to the global TB report 2017 released by WHO, there were an estimated 10.4 million new TB cases worldwide in 2016, 10 per cent of which were people living with HIV/AIDS.
Of these new cases, seven countries are noted to account for 64 per cent of the total burden. India topped the chart followed by Indonesia, China, Philippines, Pakistan, Nigeria and South Africa.
Meanwhile an estimated 1.7 million people died from TB, including nearly 400 000 people who were co-infected with HIV.
Quick facts about Tuberculosis
1. Tuberculosis is partly preventable by vaccine
2. The bacteria that cause TB are spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
3. Most people infected with bacteria that cause tuberculosis do not have symptoms.
4. When symptoms do occur, they usually include a cough, sometimes blood-tinged, weight loss, night sweats and fever.
5. Treatment is not always required for these without symptoms.
6. Patient with active symptoms will require a long course of treatment involving multiple antibiotics.
7. If you do not take the drugs correctly, the germs that are still alive may become difficult to treat with those drugs. It takes at least six months and possibly as long as one year to kill all the TB germs.
8. If you have TB, don’t drink alcohol — it can add to the risk of liver damage from some of the drugs used to treat your TB.
9. Tuberculosis is curable and preventable. About one-third of the world’s population has latent TB, which means people have been infected by TB bacteria but are not (yet) ill with disease and cannot transmit the disease.
10. People infected with TB bacteria have a lifetime risk of falling ill with TB of 10 per cent.
11. You cannot get TB germs from: Sharing drinking containers or eating utensils. TB is NOT spread through shaking someone’s hand, sharing food, touching bed linen or toilet seats, or sharing toothbrushes