By Iyemah David
The Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare said the country has made significant progress in the implementation of the 2018 UN High-Level Meeting (UNHLM) declaration on Tuberculosis (TB) control.
Dr. Chukwuma Anyaike, its Director of Public Health, said this on Thursday in Abuja at the Pre-UNHLM on TB National Stakeholders’ Consultation.
The event was organised by Stop TB Partnership Nigeria in collaboration with the National TB and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP).
The 2018 UNHLM on TB resulted in the adoption of the Political Declaration on the Fight against TB in September 2018.
Nigeria committed itself to implementing the declaration to achieve the targets set forth.
TB remains a major public health challenge in Nigeria, with the country ranking among the top 10 with the highest burden of the disease in the world.
Anyaike, who was represented by Dr. Urhioke Ochuko, a Deputy Director who currently oversees the Childhood Tuberculosis Unit, said that Nigeria had increased the number of TB cases detected and treated.
“We have detected more than 285,000 cases; we had a 60 per cent achievement of the target in 2022,” he said.
He said the country had also strengthened health systems.
“Nigeria has prioritised the strengthening of its health systems to improve TB control, including the training of healthcare workers and the establishment of more TB treatment centres.
“TB preventive treatment for Nigerians has also improved significantly from the pre-2018 levels,” he said.
He said that the Nigerian government had shown increased political commitment to TB control with some additional funding to TB control by the government and partners.
He, however, said that there were still significant challenges that the country was facing in achieving the targets set forth in the political declaration.
The official listed the challenges to include inadequate funding, low child TB case detection and low enrolment of diagnosed DR-TB patients on treatment.
He called on participants to equally explore the possibility of more investment for TB treatment as well as innovative TB financing strategies to match funding with the multiple interventions being rolled out.
Mr Mayowa Joel, Executive Secretary of Stop TB Partnership, said that the 2023 UNHLM special session would serve as an opportunity for a comprehensive review of the political declaration.
“The theme of 2023 UNHLM on TB is: ‘Advancing science, finance and innovation, and their benefits, to urgently end the global TB epidemic by ensuring equitable access to prevention, testing, treatment and care,” he said.
He said that the UNHLM on TB is the most significant political meeting ever held on TB and the biggest opportunity to raise the political priority of TB.
“It secured commitment from Heads of State and governments for a coordinated global response, resulting in a substantial increase in financial resources for TB.
“That led to millions of lives being saved from premature deaths from TB,” he said.
He emphasised the need for Nigeria to develop a comprehensive and coordinated response to UNHLM.