By Tobias Lengnan Dapam

The Federal Government revealed a steady increase in Tuberculosis (TB) notification cases in the country in the last four years.

Minister of State for Health, Sen. Olorunnimbe Mamora, made the revelation yesterday at the 2021 World Tuberculosis (TB) Day.

At the programme themed, ‘The Clock is Ticking,’ the minister said in 2019, Nigeria met 73 percent of the TB case finding target.

He said, although over 120,000 new cases of TB was detected in 2019, it constitutes only 27 percent of the estimated cases of TB in the country.

“ The Government of Nigeria (GoN) has stepped up TB response in line with the commitment made by President Muhammadu Buhari to end TB, at the first-ever United Nations High-level Meeting (UNHLM) on TB in September, 2018.

“Following that commitment, we are implementing a plan that translates the commitments into action, and we were able to achieve 73% of our UNHLM TB case finding target for 2019.

“Efforts have led to steady increase in our annual TB case notification in the last 4 years with the country recording the highest-ever TB case notification of 120,266 TB cases in 2019; a 13% rise from 2018. However, these over 120 thousand TB cases represents only 27% of the estimated cases.

“A key challenge to our control effort has been the slow pace of achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) for TB services. TB DOTS services were only available in 31 percent of health facilities. The current coverage of GeneXpert machines, the first-line test for TB diagnosis, is barely 41 percent 317 out of 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs).”

He maintained that the Nigerian government had stepped up its TB response in line with the commitment made by President Muhammadu Buhari to end TB, adding that his administration was very committed to working with partners to mobilise the needed resources to eradicate TB from the country.

In her goodwill message, Global TB champion and Ambassador and First Lady of Nigeria, Mrs Aisha Buhari, urged government at all levels, relevant stakeholders and Nigerians to double their efforts to ensure TB was eradicated from the country.

In her remarks, USAID Acting Mission Director, Dr Katie Donohoe who reiterated commitment to support Nigeria get control of TB, warned that if detection, diagnosis and treatment of TB was not prioritised and increased, the country may not be able to reach its set targets.

In her address, the Head of Department, Surveillance and Epidemiology Department,NCDC, Mrs Elsie Ilori, said the focus of this year’s theme and slogan was timely in view of the COVID 19 Pandemic.

Ilori said that the two disease share similar symptoms, the need to have appropriate diagnosis for both diseases to determine the actual cause of any cough was crucial.

“It is also important to note that a patient may be infected by both COVID-19 and Tuberculosis. The “clock is ticking” is a call for all stakeholders, communities, and well spirited individuals to join hands with the National TB and Leprosy Control Programme and the Federal ministry of Health in the fight against Tuberculosis.

“Nigeria accounts for 11 percent of the global gaps between TB incidence and notified cases. I call on all donor agencies, government of Nigeria and other Spirited individuals to support the NTBLCP with the required funding needed to combat this deadly disease,” she called.

She noted that the NCDC was saddled with the mandate for Disease outbreak reporting and surveillance was glad to collaborate with the NTBLCP to find the missing cases with immediate reporting for the NTBLCP intervention.

Ilori added that hence the collaboration to improve TB surveillance as a case based disease using surveillance outbreak response and analysis system (SORMAS).

The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN), reports that the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP) of FMOH with the support of the USAID-funded project -Breakthrough ACTION Nigeria (BA-N) has developed a Unified, National TB Social and Behaviour Change (SBC) Campaign aimed at improving
TB awareness and demand creation for a sustained and increased TB case findings in Nigeria.

The campaign was developed in close collaboration with key TB stakeholders within the country based on the lessons learnt from the formative research using Human-Centred Design (HCD), methodology. It is to ensure coordination and buy-in by all partners within the TB Advocacy, Communication and Social Mobilisation (ACSM) response.

It will also help to ensure consistency
and mutually reinforce the messages aimed at creating the needed impact in our communities while taking into consideration peculiar needs and context of each region.

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