- The Nigerian government have been asked to improve commitment in the fight against Tuberculosis in the country
- The call was made by some experts from the KNCV Foundation in the country on Wednesday, July 14
- Financing, COVID-19 pandemic and many others have affected the ongoing fight against Tuberculosis in Nigeria
Abuja, FCT - Experts have identified some of the challenges impeding efforts made by Nigeria to fight against Tuberculosis in the country.
Amid an array of challenges, the experts said funding constraints have remained key as this has been largely driven by external sources.
Speaking on Wednesday, July 14, at a press conference to announce the 2021 National Tuberculosis Conference, Bethrand Odume, the executive director of KNCV Nigeria said in 2020, it was estimated that the implementation of the National Strategic Plan (NSP), for tuberculosis, required about $384 million.
Odume who serves as chairman of the central planning committee for the conference said only 30 per cent of the required fund was available to all the implementers of TB control activities in Nigeria - 7 per cent domestic and 23 per cent donor funds with a 70 per cent funding gap.
The conference themed; “Sustaining a Resilient TB Response in Nigeria: Addressing the impact of COVID and other Diseases”, is scheduled to hold at the International Conference Centre, Abuja between November 9 and 11, 2021.
Objectives of the 2021 National TB Conference in Nigeria
According to Odume, the conference is aimed at bringing stakeholders within and outside Nigeria who are working to end TB together; provide an opportunity to deliberate on topical issues in TB control, foster and harness inter-sectoral and institutional collaboration for TB control in Nigeria.
He also said that the National TB Conference 2021 will provide a platform for all stakeholders to deliberate on the magnitude and dimensions of the effects of the pandemic on TB control in Nigeria.
It will also create an opportunity to learn lessons from experiences within and other countries and develop strategies to address TB control during the current and future pandemics.
Tuberculosis (TB) is among the top priority diseases in Nigeria, as the country is one of 10 high burden countries for TB, TB/HIV and multi-drug resistant (MDR)-TB in 2021’ as stated in the Global TB Report by World Health Organization (WHO).
Nigeria has an estimated 440,000 TB cases, of which only 117,320 were diagnosed and notified.
Odume further noted that despite incremental progress in the quality of TB treatment and care over the years as evidenced by the 87 per cent treatment success rate and 91 per cent uptake of antiretroviral therapy (ART) among HIV-positive TB patients, the overall TB treatment coverage remains low at 27 per cent in 2021, and case notifications have marginally increased in the past five years.
According to him, the situation translates to the failure to capture about 75 per cent of TB patients annually.
“Of equally great concern is the increasing gap in access to TB services to the paediatric population and other vulnerable groups.”
“Also, people who have TB are usually more vulnerable to other infections including being at a higher risk of developing complications from COVID-19 due to pre-existing lung damage.”
Tuberculosis and COVID-19 Pandemic
With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019, TB services have recorded various impacts including the disruption of access to TB services as a result of prolonged periods of lockdown, treatment interruption potentially breeding drug resistance, as well as the effects of stigma for both healthcare workers and clients amongst many others.
Odume said the COVID-19 pandemic has severely disrupted TB responses, stalling and reversing years of progress made against TB.
He added that in 2020, COVID-19 overtook TB globally as the most common cause of death from an infectious disease, but in low and middle-income countries, TB deaths remain far higher than those from COVID-19.
“As the number of people vaccinated against COVID-19 grows, the number of COVID-19 deaths will decrease while on daily basis, TB will continue to kill about 4,000 people globally and 432 people in Nigeria.”
In his address, the Stop TB Partnership Nigeria executive secretary, Ayodele Awe, said the conference would create an avenue to stimulate the generation of new collaborations for homegrown TB research and innovation.
Awe noted that it would also improve synergy, collaboration and integration between TB, HIV and other services as well as create awareness and promote best practices in TB programming in the country.
He also emphasized the need for the Nigerian government to make resources available for TB programmes.
Also, the chairman of the Scientific Committee, Professor Lawal Umar, said the conference would focus on eight thematic areas that would x-ray relevant topics surrounding the fight against TB in the country.
Umar said some of the thematic areas include, political commitment, domestic resource mobilisation, impacts and lessons learnt for TB control, TB in correctional facilities, IDP camps and other vulnerable settings.
He encouraged scientists, health experts, people in academia to send in abstracts ahead of the conference.
In a Facebook post, the KNCV TB Foundation said Nigeria is the first country in West Africa to provide groundbreaking BPaL treatment to patients with advanced forms of drug-resistant tuberculosis.
Meanwhile, Legit.ng previously reported that experts had warned that TB is worse than Coronavirus disease.
The experts said while coronavirus kills about 60 people daily, tuberculosis kills over 3,000 people daily worldwide.
While noting that 18 people die of TB every hour in Nigeria, the experts called on the Nigerian government to pay serious attention to the disease.
In other news, a 33-year-old mum suffering from spinal tuberculosis regained her agility and started walking again after samaritans donated N6.6m for surgery.
Mary was diagnosed with tuberculosis of the spine in her prime years and her condition only got worse with time.
It was gathered that for 12 months, Mary - a single mother - could not move around due to the loss of nerve sensations in the lower part of her body.