WHO, Partners call for Increased Funding for Tuberculosis

Gloria Essien, Abuja

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The World Health Organisation WHO says Africa has not kept pace with domestic funding of tuberculosis in the continent.

The WHO Regional Director, Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, in her World Tuberculosis Day message, urged African leaders to be more committed to TB funding.

She said that governments contribute only 22% of the resources required to deliver adequate TB services, with 44% going unfunded and seriously impeding efforts to reduce the TB burden.

She noted that increased funding from domestic sources and international donors is urgently needed to sustain the significant gains made against TB in the past decades.

“However, funding for TB prevention, diagnosis and treatment services continues to fall far short of estimated global needs, and the United Nations global target. In 2020, global spending on TB services fell to US$5.3 billion, and funding for research was US$901 million. 

While national strategic plans and accompanying budgets for tuberculosis have grown in ambition and mobilization of funding. 

South Africa and Zambia are the best examples of high TB burden countries that have steadily increased domestic funding specifically allocated for TB. In 2020, South Africa provided 81% of domestic funding to support TB activities. Zambia has increased its domestic funding seven-fold since 2015″, Dr Mpeti said.

Funding falls short of target
The Regional Director also said that world leaders had agreed to mobilize US$13 billion per year to finance TB prevention and treatment by 2022 and promised another US$2 billion per year for TB research in the face of growing concerns around drug-resistant TB. Despite this, funding for TB prevention, diagnosis and treatment services continues to fall far short of estimated global needs, and the United Nations global target.

“To reach the target, TB incidence would have had to record an annual decline of 4% to 5% in 2020, increasing to 10% per year by 2025, and then to an average 17% annually in the following decade. In fact, the world saw an increase in the number of global TB deaths for the first time in over a decade in 2021. Contributing factors included reduced access to TB diagnosis and treatment, in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. With 36% of all TB deaths occurring in Africa, failure to invest in the TB response is set to take a formidable toll on African countries. Increased investment can be a game-changer, and alleviate the preventable suffering and death of millions of our people”, she said.

She however called on governments to mobilize additional domestic financial support for TB control, including contributions to the Global Fund, which last month launched its US$18-billion Seventh Replenishment campaign in a bid to counter the catastrophic impact of Covid-19 on the fight against TB while urging all stakeholders to advocate for increased investment, and to ensure that TB services are integrated into the primary health care response.

“We must all also work more closely with our communities, leveraging their expert local knowledge to tailor response efforts for maximum impact. I appeal to donors, the private sector, civil society and academia to pay increased attention to urgently boosting investment in the fight against TB and in TB research, in order to accelerate technological breakthroughs and uptake of innovations towards ending TB by 2030”, she added

The Director and National Coordinator National Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Buruli Ulcer Control Programme Dr. Emmanuel Anyaike says the greatest challenge facing TB control in Nigeria was finding missing cases.

He also said that Nigeria needs to invest more in Tuberculosis.

According to him, the nation cannot think of kicking out tuberculosis without involving the private sector.

“We are working based on our strategic plan, opening up the private sector because 60 percent of Nigerians go to the private health facilities. So the strategy we should put in place is to bring in the private sector, philanthropists, the civil society, the media and every person who has a stake in this. Don’t also forget that the health care financing in this country is multifaceted, the Federal Government, the state government and the local government. So every person must be able to put in his own bit then we expand to the private health facilities and other stakeholders.”

He said that Nigeria ranked number one in Africa and number six in the whole world in the TB cases.

Similarly, the Stop TB Partnership Nigeria says to end TB, there is need for more private sector financing of the deadly disease.

The theme of the 2022 World Tuberculosis Day is “Invest to end TB; Save lives”.

It emphasizes the urgent need to invest the resources necessary to ramp up the fight against TB, and realize the commitments made by global leaders to end TB.

World TB Day is observed on March 24 each year to raise public awareness and understanding about one of the globe’s deadliest infectious diseases.


Nneka Ukachukwu

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