US, WHO Stress Importance Of Political Commitment To Eradicate TB In Nigeria

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Despite a 70 per cent increase in case detection and treatment coverage of tuberculosis (TB) in Nigeria, stakeholders underscored the critical need for political commitment to combat the disease, given the nation’s status as the most burdened nation in Africa.

The call was made in Abuja, following the investiture of the wife of President Bola Tinubu, Sen. Oluremi Tinubu as a global and national Stop TB Champion.

According to the World Health Organisation’s Tuberculosis Report of 2023, an estimated 10.6 million people contracted TB globally in 2022, with 2,480,000 cases in Africa. Nigeria alone recorded 97,900 deaths from TB in the same year, highlighting the severity of the situation.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) emphasised the need for government authorities to mobilise efforts and resources to achieve the goal of TB eradication in the country. As part of this commitment, USAID announced a contribution of $270 million to support TB efforts in Nigeria.

The country director of WHO, Dr. Walter Mulombo attributed the high prevalence of undetected TB cases in Nigeria to the exorbitant cost of healthcare. He stressed the national responsibility of preventive treatment and called for effective collaboration among stakeholders in the health sector to end the epidemic.

Executive director of the Global Stop TB Partnership Geneva, Ms. Licica Ditiu commended Nigeria’s efforts in TB case detection but emphasised the need for increased local funding to combat the epidemic. She suggested emulating India’s strategy of partnering with the private sector to secure funds and stressed the importance of collaboration and political commitment.

Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Pate urged intensified efforts in TB case detection by state actors and highlighted the crucial collaboration between the government and the private sector to rejuvenate the health sector. Pate also advocated for local production of medicine and healthcare in the country.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Tinubu expressed optimism about achieving TB eradication by 2030 through the Federal Government’s ‘Renewed Hope’ initiative. She urged stakeholders, particularly politicians and the private sector, to leverage their platforms in the fight against TB.

Tuberculosis is a potentially serious infectious disease caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It primarily affects the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body. TB spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, and symptoms include coughing, chest pain, fatigue, fever and weight loss. While TB can be treated with antibiotics, drug-resistant strains pose a significant challenge to control and eradication efforts. 

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