Nigeria’s First Lady, Aisha Buhari, has appointed Dolapo Osinbajo, the wife of the vice president of Nigeria, and wives of all governors of states across Nigeria as ‘champions’ to lead the fight against TB in Nigeria.
This was contained in a statement released by the Executive Secretary, Stop TB Partnership Nigeria, Mayowa Joel.
Tuberculosis is an infectious airborne disease that is transmitted when individuals inhale the bacteria expelled into the air by infected TB patients through coughing, sneezing or even talking. It is curable if detected early and treated properly.
TB is now the world’s leading infectious killer, surpassing HIV.
Speaking at the investiture ceremony in Abuja on Wednesday, Mrs Buhari, who is a Global TB Ambassador and Champion, noted that 18 Nigerians including children die every hour from tuberculosis in the country.
She attributed the challenges facing Nigeria’s TB response, especially low case detection, to ignorance.
She charged the wives of the 36 states governors and Mrs Osinbajo to prioritise advocacies to end the disease in their domains.
“Tuberculosis is curable. Nobody needs to die of TB in this age. As mothers, as women, the wives of Governors can largely influence the fight to end the disease in Nigeria.”
She commended the first ladies for their work under the Governors’ Wives Advocacy Coalition (GWAC).
She also urged them to use their vantage position to support all efforts to end TB in their respective states and Nigeria as a whole.
Meanwhile, Lucica Ditiu, the executive director, Global Stop TB Partnership based in Geneva, Switzerland said Nigeria has one of the highest-burden of TB in the World.
Mrs Ditiu said the importance of ending TB Nigeria and its significance to Africa and the rest of the world more than ever before as leaders from various sectors in the country are needed to lead the fight against TB.
Temitayo Odusote, the TB team lead for the USAID Nigeria, emphasized the role of the first ladies which mainly are to work with other stakeholders at the national, state and local government levels to create more awareness about TB.
Mr Odusote called for more advocacy in the area of domestic resources for the support of TB programs and services in Nigeria.
In their communique, the Wives of State Governors promised to support the effort of the First Lady to end TB in Nigeria and improve the health of women and children.
TB in Nigeria
Nigeria is among the 14 high-burden countries for TB, TB/HIV, and Multi-Drug Resistant TB globally.
Currently, the country has the highest number of TB cases in Africa and the sixth highest in the world.
The problem has been compounded by the issues of DR-TB and HIV/AIDs epidemic.
It is estimated that 407,000 people in Nigeria have TB every year. Unfortunately, most of the cases are missed or detected late, in spite of TB being a curable disease.
Based on the breakdown of the global target, Nigeria is expected to diagnosis and place 1,179,600 people on treatment from 2018 to 2022.
However, Nigeria still has the lowest TB detection rate as only 25 per cent of the TB cases are detected.
A major issue with finding TB cases in the country is the lack of funding, expertise, and equipment at primary healthcare level to diagnose the ailment.