World Tuberculosis Day: Nigeria records 50% increase in 2021
Ekene Okafor, Lagos
Nigeria recorded a 50% increase in Tuberculosis TB notifications from 138,591 cases in 2020 to 207,785 in 2021.
This shows that TB has been diagnosed in these persons and it has been reported within the national surveillance system.
The World Health Organisation Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti has revealed that 36% of all Tuberculosis deaths occur in Africa and warned that failure to invest in its response will take a formidable toll on African countries.
She was optimistic that increased investment in TB can be a game-changer that can alleviate the preventable suffering and death of millions.
Dr. Moeti said this ahead of the World TB Day, slated for today March 24.
This annual event is geared towards raising public awareness and understanding about one of the globe’s deadliest infectious diseases, as well as its devastating health, social and economic impacts.
This year’s theme: “Invest to end TB; Save lives”, emphasises the urgent need to invest the necessary resources meant to ramp up the fight against TB, and realise commitments to end TB made by global leaders.
Dr. Moeti said “at the UN High-Level meeting on TB in 2018, world leaders 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.
“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, mobilization of funding has not kept pace. In Africa, governments contribute only 22 percent of the resources required to deliver adequate TB services, with 44 percent going unfunded, seriously impeding efforts to reduce the TB burden.
“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 percent of domestic funding to support TB activities. Zambia has increased its domestic funding seven-fold since 2015.”
Moeti noted that increased funding from domestic sources and international donors was urgently needed to counteract a reversal of the significant gains made against TB in the past decades.
According to her, the UN Sustainable Development Goals target of ending the TB epidemic by 2030 will not be achievable at the current rate of progress.
“To reach the target, TB incidence would have had to record an annual decline of four per cent to five per cent in 2020, increasing to 10 per cent per year by 2025, and then to an average 17 percent 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 percent 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 stated.
Dr. Moeti called on governments to mobilise 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.
“I urge 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 the academia to pay increased attention to urgently boost 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 said.