By Asmau Ahmad
The Federal Ministry of Health and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has signed an agreement to accelerate response to tuberculosis aimed at ending the public health challenge in Nigeria.
Newsmen report that the agreement targets the treatment of 1.1 million tuberculosis infected people in Nigeria from 2019 to 2022.
The Mission Director, USAID Nigeria, Mr Stephen Haykin, signed on behalf of the agency, while Dr Adebola Lawanson, Coordinator, National TB and Leprosy Control Programme, signed for the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole at the event in Abuja.
Haykin said that USAID had made a commitment of 200 million dollars to fight TB in Nigeria in the past, and reiterated the commitment of the agency to work with relevant stakeholders to achieve this goal.
He said that the incidence of tuberculosis was still very high globally and many of such cases were in Nigeria.
“Through UN HIGH Level Meeting, Nigeria joins other countries in making commitments to accelerate the fight to end TB by increasing its response efforts at identifying missing cases and enrolling them on treatment.
“We are in partnership not only with the government of Nigeria, but with private sector and other international actors to accelerate and reach out more rapidly to find those missing TB cases and proffer counseling and treatment,’’ Haykin said.
Also speaking at the occasion, Lawanson said Nigeria was the sixth country with high burden of TB globally and first with high burden of TB in Africa.
Lawanson said the event was to support the government to ensure that everyone that needed to be reached was reached with diagnostic facilities, treatment and prevention.
She said: “Prevention is very essential now, apart from treating people affected by the disease you also need to prevent people from the disease that is why this partnership is crucial.’’
According to her, the partnership will also assist Nigeria to translate the recommendations of the 72nd UN High Level Meeting on TB into action.
“The support has been given to us; we will use it to finance all the interventions that are highlighted by UN High Level Meeting on TB, besides the domestic funding from Federal Government and other partners.
The Officer in Charge, World Health Organisation, Nigeria, Dr Clement Peters, said that the signing of the agreement was a milestone in Nigeria’s efforts at ending TB as a public health challenge.
“It also signifies how partnership is strong for government and people of Nigeria in the overall efforts to halt the spread of TB in the country.
He said that the WHO was one of the technical partners working closely with the government of Nigeria to ensure that necessary strategies to end TB were in place.
Peters said that WHO was also working to provide technical support for the implementation of the National Strategic Plan for TB and reiterated the commitment of the organisation towards ending TB in Nigeria.