NASS reiterates pledge to end TB in Nigeria
The National Assembly has reiterated its commitment towards tackling tuberculosis (TB) in the country.
The spokesperson for the House of Representatives, Benjamin Kalu, made this known during the official pre-meeting of the Stop TB Partnership Board event organised by the Global TB Caucus held virtually on September 23, 2021.
Kalu maintained that the National Assembly, through its legislative activities, collaborations and partnerships, remains committed to ensuring that the country battles the pandemic and every other disease squarely.
He urged the Federal Government and other relevant ministries, departments and agencies of government to ensure effective and efficient implementation of tuberculosis-related policies, including improving government funding as well as other priority interventions in the health sector.
He thanked the Stop TB Partnership Geneva for the continuous support and financial investment in TB affected communities and civil society through the Challenge Facility for Civil Society (CFCS) supported by USAID and Global Fund.
He assured them that the parliament would prioritise the advocacy as members of the Global TB Caucus towards ending the endemic disease at the global, regional and national levels
Kalu, who represented the Nigerian parliament while speaking on advancing TB priorities at the national level through parliamentary actions and partnerships, highlighted that despite the commitments of Heads of State and Governments during the UN HLM on TB in 2018, the realities have continued to pose a threat to the achievement of the set targets especially with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to him: “Despite these already existing challenges, it is no longer news that the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically affected our health care systems and services, thereby reversing the gains we were beginning to make as countries.
“During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, TB services were massively disrupted. This was further complicated by the stigma, misinformation, rumours, fake news and also a lot of confusion as a result of the similarities in the symptoms of COVID-19 and tuberculosis.
“However, the National TB programme was able to overcome these challenges by strengthening the network of private sectors, community workers and partnership with the Nigeria Centre for disease Control (NCDC) by integrating TB programme into some components of COVID-19 control measures.
“So far, the National Assembly through the AIDS, Tuberculosis and malaria control committee and other health related committees is doing everything possible through legislative actions to ensure that the country responds to the pandemic adequately, leaving no disease and no one behind.
“Nigeria as a country is working relentlessly towards achieving the UN HLM targets through close working relationships between in-country stakeholders, and relevant ministries, departments and agencies of government.
“The outcomes of these partnerships are evident in the different advocacy efforts, programmes interventions, country specific plans and roadmaps that have been developed since the UN HLM.”
In October 2020, the United Nations Secretary-General (UNSG) released a report prepared by the World Health Organisation (WHO), with data showing the progress since leaders met in 2018 and where they stand globally to achieve the targets agreed in the HLM on TB. The meeting had in attendance over 60 representatives of various countries around the world.
Speaking at the event was Dr. Nausheen Hamid, Parliamentary Secretary for National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination, and Chair of End TB Parliamentary Caucus, Pakistan, who spoke on the Parliamentary actions in driving national and subnational TB accountability amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and Mrs. Carol Nawina, STP Board Member, Community Delegation on Community Reflections on Deadly Divide.
The event was a call for stakeholders to reflect on the journey towards achieving the United Nations High Level Meeting (HLM) on Tuberculosis targets, in order to align their actions with the current realities most especially with the COVID-19 pandemic.
In furtherance, of the meeting held in 2018, with world leaders, international Organisations, civil society and affected communities were part of the first ever High Level Meeting on Tuberculosis (HLM on TB), at the United Nations General Assembly.