Wife of President, Aisha Buhari has applauded the coordinated multi-stakeholder approach and ambitious plan to scale up access to Tuberculosis diagnosis and treatment, by the Federal Ministry of Health.
Represented by wife of Niger state governor, Amina Bello, Aisha who gave the commendation at the 2021 National Tuberculosis conference in Abuja, explained that the approach will help maintain the required focus to contain the spread of the disease.
While calling on all elected and appointed officials, development partners, the civil society, the academia, religious and traditional leaders among others to support the approach developed by the ministry, the Wife of the President Aisha Buhari pledge her continued support to the cause.
She also spoke on the need to involve affected communities and those living with Tuberculosis, in all strategies targeted at ending TB in Nigeria.
“COVID pandemic has reminded us that we cannot win the fight against Tuberculosis by working in isolation. It is also good to know that the Ministry has stepped up the Tuberculosis response through a coordinated multi-stakeholder approach and by developing an ambitious plan to scale up Tuberculosis diagnosis and treatment.
“These strategies are very important because we need to maintain very strong focus and attention towards fighting TB, the most infectious killer disease in the world.
“And though it has been over a year since we were hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important that we do not lose sight of TB, which has been around much longer and continues to kill people in Nigeria at an alarming rate, despite being a preventable and curable disease.”
Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire spoke on the challenges encountered during by the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact on active case finding, and innovative ways through which the challenges were surmounted, resulting in a 7 percent increase from the total number of TB cases detected in the whole of 2020.
“Nigeria recorded a 30 percent reduction in gene Xpert testing within that first week of the lockdown and the number of notified TB cases also dropped by 17 percent.
Now this challenge necessitated the conceptualization and implementation of innovative interventions, the implementation of which resulted in an eventual 15 percent increase across the country in the number of Tuberculosis cases notified, making us one of the few countries in the world that recorded an increase in TB notification during 2020, despite the pandemic.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I am also delighted to let you all know that nine months into this year 2021, Nigeria has already surpassed the total number of TB cases notified throughout all of 2020 by 7 percent”.
The Global Director of KNCV TB Foundation, Dr. Gidado Mustapha expressed optimism that the spread of TB can end in Nigeria, only if government, partners and the media play their strategic roles, committedly.
“I am convinced that we can do it because we have done it before. The polio eradication in Nigeria despite all odds; the ebola virus disease containment despite all odds; the ongoing COVID-19 response in Nigeria despite all odds, have shown that we can do it.
“And I therefore say and make a request that if we have to end TB in Nigeria I put forward the following three requests; to the government – you have done it before, you can do it again, please do it for TB, Do it because TB still remains the second cause of death among all infectious diseases, do it again because TB has demonstrated the highest return on investment on a dollar.
“Second, my request goes to the partners. Get out of the comfort zone, engage other stakeholders. And my last request is to the media – you are the catalyzing factor, you are the facilitating factor for all these to happen. Come to the aid of TB.”
I interacted with two TB survivors, who spoke on the need for support groups for TB patients, massive information in the rural areas and good nutrition.
The theme for the 2021 TB Conference is “Sustaining a resilient TB response in Nigeria: Addressing the impact of COVID-19 and other dieases”.