Nigeria has been ranked 1st in Tuberculosis (TB) infection in Africa and the 6th among the 30 high burden countries globally. A situation in which 18 Nigerians die of TB infection every hour and 57,000 children under the age of 15 are infected annually.
The Board Chairman, Stop TB Partnership Nigeria, Prof. Lovett Lawson while speaking at the 2nd National Tuberculosis Conference in Abuja made the declaration.
He said Nigeria is one of 14 countries that are listed in all 3 of the World Health Organization (WHO) global lists of high burden countries for TB.
Prof. Lovett noted that though the National TB program has made some incremental progress in the quality of TB treatment and care over the years, the treatment coverage has remained low at 25% and notification cases have stagnated over the past 5 years with 300,000 cases not detected and reported.
However, he posited that to reverse the trend and curb the spread of TB, all hand must be on deck by creating awareness about TB, device means of access to care and ensure that funding is made available to combat the infection.
“To reverse this trend and see that Nigeria joins other nations in moving towards the 2035 global TB control targets, we must all join hands in any way we can to create awareness about TB, devise better ways of improving access to care and most importantly, bring on board other stakeholders in addressing the funding gaps”.
The First- Lady, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Mrs. Aisha Buhari who was represented by the Chief of Staff, Office of the First-Lady, Dr. Hajo Sani said Nigeria now need to more attention to the issue of TB, as TB is the most common cause of death in persons living with HIV and children.
Similarly, Mrs. Buhari noted that with the emergence of Drug Resistance (DR-TB), it is quite appalling that Nigeria is still having one of the lowest TB detection rate of 25% globally.
She thereby called on all stakeholders including elected and appointed officials, development partners, civil society, academia to work more together and end TB in Nigeria.
She pledged her support and that of all the first-ladies of the 36 states to be TB champions, in order to bridge the huge gap especially in funding to curb the spread of TB.
“As a Global Champion, I will use my position to call for more resources from government at all levels in order to bridge the huge gap for funding TB in Nigeria.
“I promise to engage all the first ladies of the 36 states as TB champions in their respective states, in this context, I will form an alliance with the African first ladies in the continent by positioning TB in the political agenda for our government”.
Meanwhile, the Director, United State Centre for Disease Control (CDC), Dr. Rebecca Martins said though TB remains the top infectious killer disease accounting for the deaths of over 2 million people yearly, it is still preventable, such that if missing cases are detected early enough, and with the commitment to end TB by 2025 through the global strategy, 40 million TB cases will be treated globally.
Furthermore, Dr. Rebecca stated that in order to eradicate TB, measures such as missing cases should be addressed through a data driven strategy, high level political commitment and accountability at both state and local government level should be embraced.