Aisha Buhari tasks stakeholders on TB elimination
Mrs Aisha Buhari, the wife of Nigerian President, and also Global Tuberculosis (TB) Ambassador, on Tuesday, urged stakeholders to work together to eliminate the disease in the country.
Mrs Buhari made the call at the 2021 National TB Conference on Tuesday in Abuja, FCT.
The theme for this year conference is “sustaining a resilient TB response in Nigeria: Addressing the impact of COVID-19 and other diseases”.
She said that in spite of TB being curable, Nigeria still continued to lose its citizens to it.
She noted that with the help of governors’ wives more awareness was being created on TB, particularly in the rural areas.
She commended health workers for always responding to TB cases while giving kudos to the ministry of health for stepping up response to TB.
The First Lady said that through the anti-stigma programme more people were coming forward to report TB cases and access treatments that would boost its elimination.
The minister of health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said that TB was one of the old infectious diseases that the world including Nigeria had resolved to eliminate.
Ebanire noted that the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic and its control measures impacted many aspects of human endeavour.
He said that such impact included Health services and in some cases reversed gains made over the years in aspects of health programmes that affected TB control.
“The pandemic brought 2020 global case finding levels back to 2012 level, with an 18 per cent reduction in the number of patients diagnosed with TB dropping from 7.1 million in 2019 to 5.8 million in 2020.
“Thus setting global case finding efforts back by eight years,” he explained.
The minister said that it was expected that at the end of the three-day conference, enough evidence would have been gathered and new knowledge generated to help the Global TB control efforts reverse the negative impact of the pandemic and other diseases on TB control efforts.
Ehanire said that Nigeria recorded a 30 per cent reduction in GeneXpert testing in the first week of the lockdown.
He added that the number of notified TB cases also dropped by 17 per cent from 33,119 TB cases in Q1, 2020 to 27,353 in Q2, 2020.
“This necessitated the conceptualisation and implementation of innovative interventions to ensure programme sustainability and mitigate the impact on TB control efforts.
“The implementation of which resulted in an eventual 15 per cent increase across the country, in the number of TB cases notified from 120,266 TB cases in 2019 to 138,591 TB cases in 2020.
“It made the nation one of the few countries that recorded an increase in TB notification in 2020, in spite of the pandemic.
“Key among the interventions was a strategic engagement of the private sector, the introduction of targeted, data-driven community TB case finding activities.
“Integration of TB case finding in COVID-19 outreaches, active TB and integrated TB/COVID-19 case finding activities in health facilities among others.
“Some of these helpful practices in TB case finding will be shared during this conference, so I urge participants to attend all the sessions”. he said.
He also said that nine months into 2021, Nigeria had already surpassed the total number of TB cases notified in all of 2020 by about seven per cent.
According to him, for the first time, Nigeria could be notifying up to 200,000 TB cases by the end of 2021.
He commended all who are making this happen: including our partners: WHO, Global Fund, USAID and other US agencies and their partners.
He further hailed the TB network, community-based organizations and health workers who were the foot soldiers, for their hard work in the fight to end TB in Nigeria.
He pointed out that Nigeria still had a long way to go to reach the targets for ending the TB epidemic, and that most of the country’s TB cases were yet undetected.
“We are not as close as we would like to the United Nations High-Level Meeting (UNHLM) target on TB case finding, TB Preventive Treatment (TPT) and other TB thematic areas set to be achieved by 2022 and the milestones for ending TB in Nigeria.
“We must therefore work with our partners to accelerate and scale up our current efforts significantly, mobilize needed domestic and international resources for implementing the National TB Strategic Plan 2021-2025, to end the TB epidemic in Nigeria.
“We look forward to the outcomes and reports of this conference, which we believe will help us further step up TB control efforts,” he added.
The Acting Board Chairman, Stop TB Partnership Nigeria, Dr Ayodele Awe, said that the National TB Conference 2021, aimed to galvanise action towards ending TB in Nigeria and across the world.
Awe said that participants at the three-day conference would deliberate on the way forward for TB elimination.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the partnering agencies reaffirmed their commitment to ending TB in Nigeria.
The groups included World Health Organization (WHO), KNCV TB Foundation Nigeria, Nigeria Centre For Disease Control (NCDC), the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme and other TB partners.