The Head of the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme, Ministry of Health, Dr Emmanuel Anyaike, has solicited the support of media organizations for more awareness on the spread of tuberculosis in Nigeria.
Speaking Thursday in Abuja during the press briefing on Pre-World TB Day, ahead of March 24 World Tuberculosis Day celebration, Anyaike said the media remains a key partner in tackling the issues of tuberculosis, especially with regards to getting more funding to identify actual cases of TB and placing them on treatment.
He said: “We want to let the world know that TB treatment is free, with the support we are getting from key partners. It is preventable and treatable. It is not a death sentence. Last year, we made significant progress in our struggle to discover cases. We Increased our diagnosis platform to above 40%. We appreciate everyone and hope for the better because 40% is not a good passmark.
“Our greatest friend in tackling TB is the media. However, the media is not doing enough. We need more awareness on TB, in order to find missing TB cases. Few Nigerians have information about TB. That is why this forum is important in creating awareness to rescue Nigerians. The issue of funding is another important factor. Though the treatment of TB is free, somebody is paying for it. Somebody is subsidizing the drugs, so it is not totally free. Nothing is totally free.
“Government needs to invest more to find missing TB cases across the country. It costs more to treat. One case of TB can infect 15 to 20 people. We must improve funding for intervention. However, government is scaling up engagement with the private sector toward curbing the TB burden. We need the help of all stakeholders because government won’t do it all alone.”
Also speaking, the acting Board Chairman of Stop TB Partnership Nigeria, Dr Queen Ogbuji, called for acceleration of efforts to end the global TB epidemic, saying that TB remains one of the world’s deadliest infectious killers and each day about 4,100 people lose their lives and nearly 30,000 fall ill.
She said: “TB is the leading cause of death of people with HIV and a major contributor to antimicrobial resistance. Global efforts to combat TB saved an estimated 66 million lives since the year 2000. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has reversed years of progress made in the fight.
“For the first time in over a decade, TB deaths increased in 2020. This World TB Day is an opportunity to focus on the people affected by this disease and to call for accelerated action to end the sufferings and deaths, especially in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Increased investment in TB will save millions of lives and accelerate the end of the TB epidemic in Nigeria. The Stop TB Partnership, partners and all those involved in the fight against TB in the country should unite under the 2022 World TB Day ‘Invest To End TB. Save Lives’’ and sound the alarm that low levels of funding for TB response year after year cannot be accepted anymore.
“The theme conveys the urgent need to invest resources to ramp up the fight against TB and achieve the commitment to end TB made by global leaders. This is especially critical in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic that has put End TB progress at risk.’’