The Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has announced that Nigeria has made substantial progress in implementing the 2018 United Nations High-Level Meeting (UNHLM) declaration on Tuberculosis (TB) control, despite facing various challenges.
Director of public health at the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Chukwuma Anyaike made this statement during a pre-United Nations High-Level Meeting (UNHLM) on TB National Stakeholders’ Consultation held in Abuja. The event was organised by Stop TB Partnership Nigeria in collaboration with the National TB and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP).
In September 2018, the 2018 UN High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis led to the adoption of the political declaration on the fight against tuberculosis. Nigeria committed to implementing the declaration and achieving the set targets.
Nigeria continues to face significant TB challenges, ranking among the top 10 countries with the highest TB burden globally. Anyaike emphasised the country’s commitment to implementing the declaration and reaching its outlined targets.
He highlighted achievements, such as an increase in the number of detected and treated TB cases, with over 285,000 cases identified and treated in 2022, achieving 60 per cent of the target for that year. The strengthening of health systems, including healthcare worker training and the establishment of more TB treatment centres, was also noted.
Furthermore, he mentioned improved TB preventive treatment for Nigerians since 2018. The Nigerian government has demonstrated increased political commitment to TB control, including additional funding from the government and partners.
However, Anyaike acknowledged the significant challenges still faced by Nigeria in achieving the targets set forth in the political declaration. These challenges include inadequate funding, low detection of child TB cases and limited enrollment of diagnosed DR-TB patients in treatment.
He called on participants to explore the possibility of an investment case for TB and innovative TB financing strategies to match funding with the multiple interventions being rolled out.
The executive secretary of Stop TB Partnership, Mr. Mayowa Joel highlighted the upcoming 2023 UNHLM special session on TB, scheduled during the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting. This session will take place five years after the first UNHLM on TB in September 2018 and offers an opportunity for a comprehensive review of the political declaration made by heads of state and government at the initial meeting.
The theme for the 2023 UNHLM on TB is “Advancing science, finance and innovation, and their benefits, to urgently end the global tuberculosis epidemic by ensuring equitable access to prevention, testing, treatment and care”. This theme follows a campaign launched by the Stop TB partnership board and partners in September 2016.
Joel emphasised the importance of the UNHLM on TB, calling it the most significant political meeting ever held on TB. He stated that the meeting would result in an ambitious political declaration on TB endorsed by heads of state, forming the basis for the future TB response. The session aims to secure commitments from heads of state and governments for a coordinated global response, increased financial resources for TB and millions of lives saved from premature TB deaths.
Additionally, the meeting will endorse measurable targets and commitments from governments and key stakeholders, ensuring they can be monitored and held accountable through regular reporting.
Joel reiterated that, in light of these developments, it is crucial for Nigeria to develop a comprehensive and coordinated response to the UNHLM.