The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has urged the Nigerian government to explore a multi-sectoral approach to locate ‘missing cases’ of Tuberculosis in the country.
A representative of the International agency, Temidayo Odusote, said this at a Pre-World Tuberculosis Day Media briefing in Abuja, on Tuesday.
She said various healthcare practitioners need to come together to curb the spread of TB in Nigeria.
She also said TB efforts in Nigeria have been mostly donor-driven.
“We want to focus more on multi-sectoral collaboration for TB. We have in the past major(ed) a lot on medical, open a clinic and assume that patients will come.
“We have all kinds of healthcare packages in Nigeria. We have the informal healthcare practitioners, private sector practitioners and it is important that we reach out to them to join this fight against TB.
“We have to work with the legislature, we have to work with the executive. We really have to work (with) politicians, those who go to the grassroots. We can’t do it alone. We have to reach out to other sectors to come and fund this fight,” she said.
World Tuberculosis (TB) is observed on March 24 every year.
TB burden in Nigeria
Nigeria remains one of the 30 countries globally with the highest burden of the disease. Nigeria ranks first in Africa with the highest number of undetected cases.
TB is one of the vaccine-preventable killer diseases which is also curable. Nigeria ranks high among countries with a high burden of TB, TB/HIV, and Multidrug-resistant TB.
In 2019, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that eight countries – India, China, Indonesia, Philippines, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, and South Africa – accounted for two-thirds of the new TB cases globally.
Nigeria comes third behind India and China in terms of tuberculosis cases.
Statistics from the UN health agency show that every year, around 245,000 Nigerians die from tuberculosis and about 590,000 new cases occur (of these, around 140,000 are also HIV-positive).
Meanwhile, the chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria , Abubakar Dahiru, said each member of the House of Representatives will buy a Gene Xpert for his constituency.
He said his team will do everything possible to ensure that Nigeria is free of TB.
”We have a huge TB burden in Nigeria and we require all stakeholders to work together if we are to end TB in Nigeria,” he said. “With the active engagement of members of parliament in TB, the challenges of low awareness about TB and poor funding for TB program and services will come to an end.”
“On the 24th of March, there will be a debate on Tuberculosis headed by the speaker of Nigeria, Femi Gbajabiamila.
“We have 360 members and each member of the house of representative will buy the TB testing machine, Gene Xpert. This means that we are going to have 360 machines,” he added.
Also, the Chairman, Organising Committee of the 2020 World Tuberculosis Day, Odume Bethrand, said despite significant progress in the last decade, TB remains the world’s deadliest infectious killer.
He said there is a need to accelerate efforts to end TB globally “particularly in Nigeria”.
He urged all to come together and collaboratively work towards ending the TB epidemic.
“It is our resolve to continue to bring TB on the political agenda and build a multi-stakeholder partnership to address the socio-economic impact of the disease,” he said. “We call on our political leaders to invest more on TB control, the civil society to continue to call for accountability and the media to always help in creating the needed awareness.”
”It is a call to action to scale up research, funding, human rights and accountability to end TB in Nigeria,” he added.
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