Nigeria has adopted a new regimen that reduces the time required for the treatment of multi-drug-resistant (MDR) Tuberculosis from 20 months to about nine months.
According to a press statement, the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, on Monday flagged off the regimen when he commissioned the first extensive drug-resistant Tuberculosis ward and fully-equipped MDR ward at the University College Hospital, UCH, in Ibadan, Oyo State.
At the ceremony, Mr. Adewole called on all TB sufferers to present themselves for free treatment at any Federal government health facility nearest to them.
“Formerly, when we treat people with drug-resistant TB, the drug regimen will last for as long as 20 months, and this is one of the challenges,” he said according to the statement from his ministry.
“What we are flagging off today is a new regimen that has been accepted worldwide. We will be able to reduce the period of treatment from about 20 months to between 9 and 11 months.
“With the new drug regimen, we can improve our chances of achieving cure even with drug resistant TB,” he added.
The Minister said the Nigerian government is committed to increasing funding for Tuberculosis control, noting that it is one of its priority areas.
He also challenged the National Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Buruli Ulcer Control Programme as well as the partners present at the event to accelerate case finding and collaborate to double the amount of cases found in Nigeria.
“It is not the number of cases of TB that should bother us, but the fact that we are only able to detect about one-sixth of the cases of TB in Nigeria.”
According to the minister, since TB is treatable, once cases are found and treated, it will encourage others to present themselves for treatment and help in stopping the disease in Nigeria.
Mr. Adewole also received equipment donated to the South-west zone TB reference laboratory located at the UCH, Ibadan.
He lauded the donors, including Damien Foundation Belgium, USAID and the Institute for Human Virology, Nigeria (IHVN), for their support for his agenda.
The MD/COO IHVNigeria, Charles Olalekan, in a tweet on the Federal Ministry of Health handle, said with this arrangement, Nigeria has met the WHO’s guidelines for managing drug resistance TB.
Osman El Tayeb, Country-Director of Damien Foundation, in his goodwill message commended the government and called the flag off of the treatment regimen in Nigeria a great news.
The minister also unveiled two strategic documents at the ceremony. These are the National Standard Operating Procedures for Tuberculosis Laboratory Diagnosis and the National Guidelines on Biosafety for TB Laboratories.