By Blessing David
President Muhammadu Buhari led administration has said that more work at all tiers of government still needs to be done in the fight against tuberculosis in Nigeria.
Minister of health,Dr. Osagie Ehanire ,said despite the significant progress made in the health sector in identifying the cases, TB remains TB anywhere as such ,efforts must be doubled by relevant stakeholders in the fight against eliminating the disease from the country.
He made this known during the launching of the Compendium of Best Tuberculosis Practices in Nigeria at the Ladi kwali hall of Sheraton hotel in Abuja which is the first of it’s kind in the history of the country.
Ehanire said this Compendium as put together by the National Tuberculosis Buruli Ulcer Control Programme NTBLCP ,has shown the committment in the leadership of the ministry of health towards eliminating the scourge , just as the document will serve as a useful tool for stakeholders to help them maximise measures that can be taken for the prevention and control of TB in Nigeria.
He said despite the progress report made in the sector to control the disease, a lot of cases are still been detected annually which have not been treated,as such ,they pose as a threat to the livelihoods of Nigerians especially those in the dense populated area.
Ehanire stressed that Nigeria has the largest burden of TB in Africa, as such, there is need to work harder to reduce the burden as well as socio economic impact and transmission of TB, leprosy and Buruli Ulcer in Nigeria,hence all hands must be on deck to change the narratives.
He therefore called on all stakeholders in the state government and local governments not to rest on their oars but continue to work vigorously with relevant partners with sustainable development goals in the fight to end TB in the country.
Also speaking at the launching, National Coordinator for NTBLCP, Dr. Chukwuma Anyaike said the Compendium which is a document of tuberculosis best practices that can be referenced by critical stakeholders,narrows down the best experiences that yielded results in the states bringing out the applied strategies that made the difference in each intervention.
He said TB remains a global health concern hence must be addressed with utmost importance which is why the Compendium as put together by experts in the health sector,contains relevant information about tb and possible approach that can be used for the control of TB programmes.
Anyaike stressed on the need for government to put more funds for the TB programme as a lot of missing cases still abound and the message must just continue to be preached at various levels, stressing that poor funding has remained a major setback for tb elimination in Nigeria.
The coordinator maintained that since the inception of the National TB Control Programme, Nigeria has maintained a treatment coverage rate less than 24% hence all efforts to improve case notification by introducing different intervention yielded minimal results as this can be linked to the missing case gap that is still above 75%.
Similarly, Deputy Chief of Party for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded LON 3 Project, Ayodele Iroko, said the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) is gaining grounds in Lagos and with the state Ministry of Education.
She said the Compendium which has been launched is a welcome development that will serve as a vital tool for experts to leverage on, in the event of elimination and control of TB in the country.
She maintained that IHVN on it’s part is not resting but engaging with religious and community leaders, school owners as well as the heterogeneous community with relevant information on missing TB cases.
She urges government to recruit more manpower in the health sector and not limit it to the health workers alone, stressing that TB remains a global health challenge and requires that all hands must be on deck to eliminating the disease from the country.
Iroko added that the Compendium will help future generations build the gap,as they can find relevant information that will help to create and implement strong tb programme.
“Nig government should recruit more hands in the health sector ,take the battles to religious leaders to reach the unreach, move with information to the grassroots”.