By Lanre Oloyede
Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, Tuesday said Nigeria has achieved 73 percent of the TB case finding target the country committed to at the high level UN meeting in 2019.
The Minister stated this at the 2021 TB day ministerial briefing and official launch of the Unified National TB Campaign and ACSM Guideline, in Abuja organized by the National TB and Leprosy Control (NTBLCP) and the Stop TB partnership Programme In Nigeria, to commemorate the 2021 World TB Day.
Ohanire, who was represented by the Minister of State for Health, Sen. Olorunnimbe Mamora, he however said although over 120,000 new cases of TB was detected in 2019, it constitutes only 27 percent of the estimated cases of TB in the country.
While noting a steady increase in TB notification cases in the last four years, the Minister said, “Efforts have led to steady increase in our annual TB case notification in the last 4 years with the country recording the highest-ever TB case notification of 120,266 TB cases in 2019; a 13% rise from 2018.
However, these over 120 thousand TB cases represents only 27% of the estimated cases.He however noted that a key challenge to the country’s control effort has been the slow pace of achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) for TB services, adding that TB DOTS services were only available in 31% of health facilities, while the current coverage of GeneXpert machines, the first-line test for TB diagnosis, is barely 41%; 317 out of 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs).
In her message, Global TB champion and Ambassador and First Lady of Nigeria, Aisha Buhari, urged government at levels, relevant stakeholders and Nigerians to double their efforts to ensure TB was eradicated from the country.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation, WHO, regretted that low Tuberculosis case detection was a major challenge in the disease’s control efforts in Nigeria given that the country has detected only 27% of the estimated incident TB cases, hence the body stressed that the country was far from archieving its 2025 national target on Tuberculosis.
Speaking at the Ministerial briefing, WHO’s representative in Nigeria, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombos, noted that poor budgetary funding of TB was a major threat to Nigeria’s achievement of its targets, which was committed to at the United Nations High Level meeting (UNHLM) on TB in 2018.
He warned that the un-detected TB cases can further constitute pool of reservoir that fuel ongoing transmission of TB in the community. According to him, one undetected infectious TB case is able to infect between 12 – 15 people per year.However, USAID Acting Mission Director, Katie Donohoe, reiterated the body’s commitment to support Nigeria get control of TB, warning that if detection, diagnosis and treatment of TB was not prioritised and increased, the country may not be able to reach its set targets.
Also speaking, Director General of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, stated that Nigeria accounts for 11% of the global gaps between TB cases, thereby calling for more sustained efforts to tackle tuberculosis in the country.
The DG said the focus of this year’s theme and slogan was timely in view of the COVID 19 Pandemic because the two disease share similar symptoms, the need to have appropriate diagnosis for both diseases to determine the actual cause of any cough is crucial. Dr Chikwe maintained that a patient may be infected by both COVID-19 and Tuberculosis hence The “clock is ticking” is a call for all stakeholders, communities, and well spirited individuals to join hands with the National TB and Leprosy Control Programme and the Federal ministry of Health in the fight against Tuberculosis just as Nigeria accounts for 11% of the global gaps between TB incidence and notified cases.