Tuberculosis: President’s wife calls for massive awareness in Nigeria

Ismaila Umar, Abuja

The Wife of the President, Mrs Aisha Buhari, has called on Stop Tuberculosis (TB) Partnership Nigeria, an NGO, and other developmental partners to carry out a massive awareness campaign to end tuberculosis in the country.

Mrs Buhari, who decried the position of Nigeria as the first in Africa and fourth in the world in terms of tuberculosis infection, said the disease causes several untimely deaths and as such the scourge must be tackled.

Mrs Buhari who is an ambassador of the ‘Stop TB campaign’, lamented that Nigeria has occupied these positions due to its lowest detection rate when compared to other nations of the world and as such, 600,000 persons are infected by the disease annually and more disturbingly, 60 per cent of the affected are children.

Mrs Buhari who was represented by the wife of the vice president, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo at the national conference organised by the Stop TB Partnership Nigeria (STBPN) and the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTLCP) noted that out of the over 600,000 cases, only 15 per cent were being detected as about 500,000 cannot access treatment and as a result die prematurely.

She said while the government is doing its best to end the scourge, there is need for development partners to assist in stemming the tide.

Primary Healthcare Centres

Also speaking at the forum, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, explained that the Federal Government would provide 1111gene expert machines, a new diagnosis tool in some selected primary healthcare centres to enhance treatment of tuberculosis (TB).

Mr Adewale, noted that government has identified 287 centres and health teams across the country are trying to map out the 111 out of the 287 identified Primary Healthcare Centres.

He said “the pilot centres can serve as proof of what we plan to do in the next two years.”

The Minister added that the ministry was working with World Health Organisation (WHO), UNICEF and World Bank to train human resource needs for the Primary Healthcare Centres.

We are looking at the concept where we have at least 19 workers with six major healthcare workers in a primary health centre so that we can interface with communities.

“We need to go to people’s homes and pick out TB from there, if we can improve the diagnosis, we will also improve the treatment and make sure that we wipe out TB.

“What we need is support and we believe that we can get It, he stated.”

Adewole said Nigeria was “poised to wipe out TB just as it did in the case of guinea worm and Ebola.”

Priority Area

On his part the USAID Mission Director in Nigeria, Mr. Mike Harvey said the Agency was worried that 68 per cent of the National TB Programmes were under-funded.

He added that the 2015-2030 USAID Strategic Plan on TB has Nigeria as its major priority area.

Mr. Harvey further explained that the U.S. government was committed to support Nigeria and raise awareness on the disease.

The Country Director of an NGO, Challenge TB/KNCV, Dr Gidado Mustapha,  said the TB testing machine which was highly sensitive was faster than the microscope, adding that a total of 215 of such machines were current in the country.

Mustapha said the machines had assisted in testing over 30,000 patients.