Nigerian Government commences activities to mark World TB Day
Edward Samuel, Abuja
In commemoration of this year’s World Tuberculosis Day (WTD) in Nigeria, activities are in top gear as the Nigerian government and its partners renewed their commitment to the global fight against Tuberculosis, a disease that has affected millions of people worldwide.
The Executive Director, KNCV TB Foundation Nigeria and chairman 2023 World TB Day Planning Committee, Dr Berthrand Odume made this known during the 2023 Pre-World TB Day Press Conference organised by Stop TB Partnership Nigeria, in collaboration with National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP) Federal Ministry of Health in Abuja the nation’s capital.
Dr Odume said despite the progress made tuberculosis remains a significant global health challenge and it is the world’s deadliest infectious disease and must be tackled with utmost urgency and responsibility.
“This, we can achieve through government, communities and stakeholders buy-in. we need more education on TB, more importantly the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. Working with the media, the program can make progress in educating the public on the impact of this deadly disease as well as current efforts by the governments, the key funders of TB program in Nigeria, the United States Agency for International Development, (USAID), Global Fund, GF) and other partners in addressing the scourge of the disease in Nigeria”. He said.
The Executive Director, KNCV TB Foundation Nigeria and chairman 2023 World TB Day Planning Committee explained that in this year’s World TB day celebration, they will continue to reach out to government and private sector to galvanise effort at increasing domestic resources for the control of TB in Nigeria.
Odume said the planning committee of this years World TB day has scheduled several activities to look forward to in commemorating the World TB Day in Abuja.
“The activities includes training of teachers, roadshow, outreach to 6 area councils, press briefing on the 24th of March at the ministry of health which similar activities will also be supported across the 36 states in the country”. He added.
The planned activities is to help raise more awareness about the impact of Tuberculosis in the country and to encourage early diagnosis and treatment.
Speaking at the Pre-World TB Day press conference, the Acting Board Chairman, Stop TB Partnership Nigeria, Dr Queen Ogbuji-Ladipo said Nigeria has made very significant progress in the last few years to increase TB case notification, but still have some gaps.
“Presently as at the end of 2022, the program was able to achieve 60% performance of its estimates for TB case notification that shows that the country is making good progress, but we still have a large gap so close, so as Stop TB Partnership, we call on all to continue to consolidate our efforts until we achieve Nigeria free of TB. The media, we urge you to please to continue to increase awareness about TB through your various channels. The community based organizations should continue to work within our communities to identify TB cases and to carry out your preventive activities”. She said.
“We are very appreciative of our donors, the USAID and the Global Fund for release of fertility program in Nigeria and we are very optimistic of their continuous support to us”. She added.
The National Coordinator, National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP) Federal Ministry of Health in Nigeria, Dr Chukwuma Anyaike explained that Tuberculosis is still a very big issue globally, and Nigeria is one of the countries with the highest burden of Tuberculosis.
Dr Anyaike said that Nigeria is number one in Africa and still the sixth globally. He stressed that Tuberculosis is not caused by any witchcraft but an infectious disease caused by a bacterium called mycobacterium tuberculosis and can not be contracted by shaking of hands, and by hugging. “The bacterium is suspended in the air and you can breath it in. Whatever happens afterwards, depends on your body immune system”.
“We need to make much awareness creation and I’m challenging our colleagues from the media angle to help us, you have done so well, at least before it was 25% of Nigerians not knowing much about tuberculosis and the burden in Nigeria but we still have a lot of problems. So as the number one principle of primary prevention, awareness creation comes in, we need to make much noise and it shouldn’t be just on an annual basis. We should try as much as possible to let people know, people hear of TB, I want us to expand it to tuberculosis”. He said.
Dr Anyaike said in the midst of the struggles, Nigeria has repeatedly done well. “If you look at where we started by the end of 2022, we were able to notify above 285,000 missing cases in Nigeria and that is 60% of the missing cases is a huge milestone, but we have not gotten there, so we were able to do that by the sheer cooperation and commitment, with passion of every person. I remember by this time last year we were also here. So by that time last year it was not 60 So we should also celebrate ourselves haven’t gone this far”. He added.
The WHO country representative in Nigeria, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, who was represented by Dr Oyama Ogbuagu said too many people are pushed into poverty when they contract TB due to loss of income, transport costs and other expenses. He noted that 71% of the TB patients in Nigeria and their household are affected by the catastrophic cost due to TB.
He said WHO in collaboration with other partners have supported the country to conduct an epidemiological analysis of the national TB program and the midterm review of the national TB strategic plan the 2021 to 2025 which has the overall aim among others to provide the necessary guidelines for the development of the new global fund drafts for 2024 to 2026.
“Currently, that process is going on and hopefully that application which will bring additional resources to the country, for the TB epidemic response efforts will be submitted by the 28th March of this year, WHO will continue to support Nigeria to developed and implementing guidelines, plans, framework and strategic documents to end TB epidemic in Nigeria”. He added.
The theme for this year’s World TB Day is Yes! We Can End TB” and the slogan is Get involved!
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