The Nigerian Government has flagged off a new shorter regimen for multi-drug-resistant (MDR) Tuberculosis treatment in Nigeria.
The new regimen will reduce the time taken to treat drug-resistant tuberculosis patients from about 20 months to about 9 months.
The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, disclosed during the flag off of the regimen and the commissioning ceremony of the first extensively drug-resistant TB ward and fully equipped MDR ward in Ibadan, the Oyo state capital.
He also called on all TB sufferers to present themselves for treatment at the nearest Federal government health facility free of charge.
According to Adewole, “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. 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 pledged government’s commitment to increasing funding for Tuberculosis control, noting that it is one of the priority areas of the current administration.
He challenged the National Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Buruli Ulcer control programme as well as the partners present 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 1/6th of the cases of TB in Nigeria.”
According to the Health Minister, since TB is treatable, once cases are found and treated, it will encourage others to present themselves for treatment and this would help in stopping TB in Nigeria.
The Minister also received a donation of equipment at the south west zone TB reference laboratory located at the University College Hospital in Ibadan. He lauded the contributions of the donors including Damien Foundation Belgium, USAID and the Institute for Human Virology, Nigeria (IHVN) for their support for his agenda.
Adewole also unveiled two strategic documents at the ceremony; the National Standard Operating Procedures for Tuberculosis Laboratory Diagnosis and the National Guidelines on Biosafety for TB Laboratories.