Health

WHO, others seek more funding to tackle tuberculosis in Nigeria

Photo caption: Stakeholders at the press conference

The World Health Organisation, KNCV Nigeria, and other experts on Tuesday called on governments at all levels to increase investments in tuberculosis to achieve Nigeria’s goal of eradicating the disease by 2030.
They made the call at a press conference in Abuja ahead of the 2024 World Tuberculosis Day.
They noted that the persistently low awareness levels, particularly in rural areas, pose a significant threat to efforts aimed at addressing the deadly disease.
TB is a disease caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that often affects the lungs. It is the number one infectious killer disease in the world and also among the top 10 causes of death worldwide.
It is spread from person to person through the air.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, ranks sixth among 30 countries globally with the highest burden of the disease.
Nigeria also ranks first in Africa in the number of undetected cases.
World Tuberculosis Day is marked on March 24 every year to create awareness about the impact of the disease.
The 2024 WTBD is themed “Yes, we can end TB” and Nigeria’s slogan is “No gree for TB, check am o.”
Speaking at the event, a representative of the WHO, Dr Amos Omoniyi, noted that TB is a killer-disease globally, with millions of deaths recorded annually.
Omoniyi said in 2022, Africa reported approximately 2.4 million cases of TB, with Nigeria contributing 479,000 cases (19 per cent).
He said out of the 424,000 TB-related deaths in Africa same year, 97,900 (23 per cent) occurred in Nigeria.
According to him, one person dies of TB every five minutes in Nigeria despite being a curable disease.
“It is very sad and painful that people still die from TB every day despite being a curable disease,” he said.
Omoniyi noted that despite accounting for the high burden of the disease, Nigeria still has a 70 per cent funding gap in TB.
“This killer-disease is curable, preventable and can be eradicated if the government at all levels can invest more into tackling TB,” he said.
Also, the Executive Director of KNCV TB Foundation Nigeria, Dr Bethrand Odume, said the theme conveys the urgent need to come together and ramp up the fight against TB to achieve commitments to end the disease by 2030.
Odume said it is a continuation of last year’s World TB Day theme which brings attention to TB and our collective power to achieve the 2023 UN High-Level Meeting on TB Political Declaration targets, which will put the world on course to end TB by 2030.
“It brings hope and builds on the amazing work done in 2023 by many TB High Burden Countries and TB Champions around the world who continue to make incredible strides to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic by increasing access to TB treatment and prevention,” he said.
He stated that the theme also revolves around the increased engagement of those affected by TB, communities and civil society who are leading the movement towards ending this disease.
He said it also identifies progress made in research and development – many new TB diagnosis tools, shorter, more efficient treatment, and preventive regimens, as well as several vaccines in phase three clinical trials.
Odume said the time to accelerate all efforts towards ending TB is now more than ever before.
“We all need to sustain the progress we have made in recent years in finding missing TB cases, by scaling up key proven strategies while sustaining advocacy efforts to improve funding from the government and the private sector,” he added.
He said KNCV is working with the National Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Buruli Ulcer Control Programme, and the state TB programme in the 14 supported states to improve TB case detection in Nigeria under the USAID-supported TB Local Organisation Network project.

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