Health

First Lady Remi Tinubu donates N1bn to fight tuberculosis

The First Lady, Senator Remi Tinubu, on Thursday, donated N1 billion to support the fight to end the Tuberculosis epidemic in Nigeria by 2030.
Tinubu made the donation in Abuja following her investiture as the global and national Stop TB champion by the Global Stop TB Partnership.
The PUNCH reports that the First Ladies from the 36 states were also conferred Stop TB champions in their various states.
According to the World Health Organisation, TB is a disease caused by a bacterium (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that often affects the lungs.
The disease is spread through the air when people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit. A person needs to inhale only a few germs to become infected.
WHO said a total of 1.3m people died from TB in 2022, including 167,000 people with HIV. Globally, TB is the second leading infectious killer after COVID-19 (above HIV and AIDS).
Nigeria is ranked sixth and first country with a high burden of TB in the world and Africa respectively.
Speaking at the event, Tinubu said she accepts the investiture as a call for action in ending TB in the country by 2030.
She said, “Ending TB by 2030 is not impossible with the active support of everyone seated here today. Let me acknowledge the efforts of all stakeholders at the national, regional and global levels towards addressing the TB epidemic.”
She noted that following the 2023 political declaration adoption of the United Nations High-Level Meeting, President Bola Tinubu is fully committed towards to the fight against TB and achieving the goals set forth in the political declaration adoption.
She said, “Nigeria has made remarkable progress in the fight against TB and it is still not relenting in its efforts to eradicate TB completely, even before the target of 2030.
“Nevertheless, I call on the government, legislators, private partners, development partners, civil society organisations, health care professionals, academia, market men and women, communities, religious leaders, traditional leaders, and individuals to intensify their efforts in working towards ending TB by ensuring that everyone has access to quality TB diagnosis and treatment services.
“I congratulate the first ladies who have today become TB champions in their respective states. This designation is not just a title but to use your positions to amplify the awareness on TB and end the stigma associated with TB.
“It is on the note that we at the Renewed Hope Initiative have decided to support the fight to end TB by 2030 with a humble donation of N1bn and we use this opportunity to call on all well meaning Nigerians to assist in this fight.”
The Executive Director of the Global Stop TB Partnership, Geneva, Dr Lucica Ditiu, commended Nigeria’s efforts in eradicating TB.
Ditiu said, “Nigeria has a huge burden of TB, it is not a shame, it is not a problem. There is a big ambition, and there are amazing achievements that have taken place. Nigeria used to have about 70 percent missing cases of TB but in 2023, Nigeria has 70 percent TB notification. So, the country cannot go back. Nigeria cannot afford to perform worse afterwards.
“Nigeria don’t need technical assistance to fight TB. Nigeria knows how to diagnose, detect and treat their people. There are innovative ways to source for the needed funds for TB response, especially from the private sector. Nigeria has leaders who care about the health of their people. African nation needs a lot of push, let’s do what we can to end TB. This is a collective effort,” she stated.
In her remarks, the acting board chair, Stop TB Partnership, Nigeria, Dr Queen Ogbuji-Ladipo, said despite advancements in medicine and healthcare, TB remains a formidable adversary, disproportionately affecting vulnerable populations and underserved communities.
She, however, said there was hope with the dedication of healthcare professionals, researchers, policymakers, and advocates who work tirelessly to combat TB and improve the lives of those affected.
She stated that urgent action is needed at all levels to address gaps in TB detection, treatment, and prevention.
“In recognition of the urgent need for increased advocacy, awareness, and action to eliminate the TB scourge, the First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Her Excellency, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, and the wives of state governors have been identified as critical stakeholders who are committed to leveraging their influence and platforms to raise awareness, mobilize resources, advocate for policy changes, and drive action to strengthen our TB response efforts at national and sub-national levels.
“By leveraging your voices and networks, we can galvanize support from various stakeholders and communities, ultimately driving progress towards a TB-free Nigeria.
“Furthermore, it is imperative to acknowledge the remarkable efforts of the former First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and former Global TB Champion – Her Excellency, Dr Mrs. Aisha Muhammadu Buhari in raising awareness about TB and advocating for increased political commitment to support the effort to end TB at national and global levels,” she said.
On his part, the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof Muhammad Pate, said the government was currently equipping the Primary Health Care facilities with essential facilities and personnel to deliver comprehensive services, particularly in rural and underserved areas, with the goal of improving health outcomes and reducing the burden of preventable diseases such as TB.
Pate stated, “Our efforts at ending the TB epidemic in Nigeria resulted in the expansion of TB treatment services (DOTs centres) to about 22,000 health facilities and GeneXpert equipment – a rapid molecular test for TB – to 512 as of the end of 2023.
“We are scaling up the use of digital X-ray with artificial intelligence for TB screening among key and vulnerable populations (including children) as we currently boast of 51 mobile digital X-ray platforms nationwide within the program, and an additional 350 digital X-ray machines will be available before the end of June 2024.
“As part of our diagnostic optimization plan, we have also instituted a strong specimen referral network utilising a hub-and-spoke model that was responsible for the transport of over 2.4 million samples in 2023 for TB tests.”
The minister added that the government is adopting all-of-society approach through collaborations with the private sector and the community in the fight to end TB in the country.

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