Nigeria Ranks High in TB Infection Despite Free Testing, FG Laments
By Laide Akinboade, Abuja
The Federal Government has expressed dismay with the country’s position in the recent World Health Organization’s Tuberculosis ranking.
“It is unfortunate that despite the availability of free testing and medication, Nigeria still ranked highest among countries in the world with TB especially among children,” Health Minister Osagie Ehanire, told a press conference organized on Friday, to commemorate the 2023 world TB day.
In the WHO’s global TB report, Nigeria ranks as the 6th country in the world and the first in Africa with the highest number of people infected with TB.It is also included among the 8 countries that have two-thirds of global TB cases.
According to Osagie who was represented by the State Minister of Health Ekumankama Joseph, Nigeria’s position on the ranking was a result of various negative factors:
“There are 467,000 TB cases in Nigeria in 2021. In 2022 there was an estimated 479,000 TB cases in Nigeria out of which 285, 562 were notified. In 2022, there is an estimated 3,932 Drug Resistance Tuberculosis cases were diagnosed and 3,185 (81%) were enrolled on second-line treatment,” he said.
The Minister further said the problems were compounded by the citizens’ ignorance of the TB virus. “Only one out of every four Nigerians has adequate knowledge about TB.”
However, the minister said the country recorded some improvement in the area of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) testing among TB patients as 97% of Nigeria’s TB patients have documented HIV results, which was far higher than the global and African region averages of 76% and 89% respectively.
“The federal government is committed to ensuring the end of TB in Nigeria. All the interventions of the Federal Government are yielding positive results. We have been able to expand the TB facilities from 2, 038 in 2014 to over 20, 000,” he said.
The Minister also called on Nigerians to take an active role in ending the transmission of Tuberculosis in the country. “If you or anyone you know is coughing for more than two weeks ensure that you get tested,” he advised.
Also Speaking, the WHO’s Country Representative (WR) Dr. Walter Mulombo, represented by Dr. Laxmikant Chavan WHO’s Technical Officer said that Nigeria at the United Nations High-Level Meeting (UNHLM) on TB in 2018 made a commitment to diagnose and treat 1,109,000 TB cases and place 2,183,890 clients on TB preventive Therapy (TPT) from 2018 to 2022.
“But after the end of 2022, Nigeria is yet to achieve this commitment as available reports show that the country is trailing behind in all the set targets,” he said.
He noted that TB control budgets in Nigeria continue to be drastically underfunded.
“About 69% of the TB budget in 2021 was unfunded, this is a major threat to the country’s efforts in achieving the set targets. Too many people are pushed into poverty when they contract TB due to lost income, transport costs, and other expenses. 71% of the TB patients in Nigeria and their households are affected by catastrophic cost due to TB.”
Dr. Walter reiterated WHO’s continued support to Nigeria in developing and implementing guidelines, plans, frameworks, and strategic documents to end the TB epidemic in Nigeria.
“In addition, we will facilitate research to provide evidence-based interventions and innovations for finding the missing TB cases and enhancing the country’s efforts in reaching the set targets. We will continue to work with the programme to build the capacity of senior and middle-level managers across the states on the needed knowledge and skills for improving quality of care and data analysis towards formulating evidence-based policies for enhancing programme performance at all levels. In addition, we will continue to support monitoring of the programme at all levels, in real-time, to identify challenges and advise on strategies to address the challenges,” he said.
Also, the Deputy Director, Office of HIV/ AIDS and TB USAID Nigeria, Omosalewa Oyelaran said since 2003, Nigeria remains in the top 10 countries affected by TB, with one of the lowest detection rates globally.
She said to combat this debilitating disease; USAID collaborates with the Government of Nigeria and other national and international partners to support the National Tuberculosis Program. Since 2003, USAID has contributed more than $250 million to TB control efforts in Nigeria.
In 2022 alone, USAID programs helped screen over 15 million individuals for TB. USAID’s support also includes the provision of TB screening, diagnostic, treatment, and preventive services in 18 states through community and facility-based interventions.
“In partnership with the Government of Nigeria, USAID’s ‘TB Accelerator’ model invested in local civil society organizations (CSOs) to increase access to quality TB prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, including multi-drug resistant TB.
“These local CSOs collaborate with the national and state TB programs to deploy, and scale, state-of-the-art equipment and tools to improve the detection of TB. USAID also facilitates multi-sectoral public-private partnerships to increase public awareness and advocate for domestic resources to address the TB epidemic in Nigeria. As a result, Nigeria realized a significant increase in TB case finding and treatment coverage over the past three years.
“Despite the additional challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have achieved significant results working together in partnership with GON and Global Fund.
“We commend the Government of Nigeria’s efforts to sustain the accelerated service delivery that resulted in yearly case notification increases of 160 percent between 2019 and 2022.
“However, much remains to be done if Nigeria is to meet its TB control target of ending the TB epidemic by 2035. We must continue to work together to reach all TB patients and their contacts in Nigeria.
“However, the greatest challenge is the funding gap, which is estimated to be 70 percent of the resources needed to effectively control TB. Therefore, I call on you to mobilize domestic resources to meet this funding gap through budgetary allocations, the inclusion of TB services in health insurance schemes, and enhanced private sector engagement”, she said.
The Ag. Board Chair, Stop TB Partnership Nigeria, Dr. Queen Ogbuji in her goodwill message said out of the annual estimate of 479,000 TB cases in Nigeria, only 285,561 were notified.
According to her, it’s good progress in the right direction, considering the fact that Nigeria was able to increase its notification even when the world was grappling with COVID-19 and many countries of the world had low case notification and more TB deaths.
The increase has been consistent since then and Nigeria needs to be applauded for this. However, a lot needs to be done to close the gap. While we commemorate, let it remain top in our minds the picture that Nigeria ranks first in Africa and sixth in the world accounting for about 4.6% of the global TB burden
“TB disease is often more severe in children with higher mortality among those less than 5 years old. The notification of children with active TB disease has remained abysmally low at only 6% of the annual notification.
“As the country continues to make progress to find the missing TB cases and put them on treatment, many resources are needed to accomplish this, unfortunately, of the $373 million needed for TB control in Nigeria in 2020, only 31% was available and 24% of this came from the donors, only 7% was from domestic source”, she added.
Health Professionals Urge Sani to Prioritise Sector in Kaduna
Some experts in the health sector have advised the new Governor of Kaduna State, Uba Sani, to prioritise the sector in order to improve the well-being of the citizens.
The health experts spoke on Wednesday in Kaduna.
Madaki Sheyin, Kaduna State Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), urged the new governor to reverse the trend of brain drain that hit the State especially in the last six years.
According to Sheyin, he should prioritise the health sector because of its importance to the masses.
“Emphasis must be made on human capital development; without a good human resource whatever structures built will not bring the needed gain or positive change,” he said.
He added that training and development, career progression and other incentives would attract manpower to the state.
“Kaduna needs to retain its best hands in the sector and attract many more through improved welfare packages.
“Also, attention must be given to capacity building and development with the right kind of equipment and infrastructure put in place.
“A needs assessment should be done and consultations with relevant stakeholders carried out with the stakeholders being carried along in various stages of policy development and implementation.
He added that public private partnership (PPP) was worth looking at, to curb wastage and improve service delivery and efficiency in the sector.
Dr Nuhu Yusuf, another medical doctor, said improved staff welfare, good working conditions should be one of the priorities the governor should have.
He added that the governor should build good state- of- the- art facilities in the state.
“Fully equipped hospitals, like those obtained in developed countries with modern equipment and should discourage increase in medical tourism.’’
Mr Morakinyo Rilwan, National Chairman, National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives, said the governor should embark on mass employment of nurses and doctors.
“The “japa” syndrome affected health workers in Kaduna seriously and their “japaing” is not to overseas, but to neighbouring states that pay better.
“We congratulate the new administration of governor Sani and our prayers are that God Almighty will guide him to do what is beneficial to the populace.
“However, the expectations of health workers in Kaduna state are not different from what was presented to him during the campaign period when he met with Kaduna state health workers forum and the presentation to the transition committee on May 16.
“So, he should try as much as possible to keep to his campaign promises.
“Hazard allowance should be reviewed upward and we expect him to be workers-friendly unlike his predecessor and dialogue with them on areas that may seem difficult to accomplish.”
He added that health workers, especially nurses suffered in the hands of kidnappers due to lack of security in the hospital and some of these facilities had no perimeter fence.
“Upward review of workers allowances as a motivation for those who are ready to stay back.
“Lastly, he should pay all the arrears of unions and Association check off dues not remitted, to allow professional associations to concentrate on their activities and pay their workers.
“Health facilities should be upgraded with adequate consumables and other working tools,’’ he said. (NAN)
FG Restates Commitment to Increasing Access to Family Planning Programmes
The Federal Government has restated its commitment to enunciating policies that would increase access to family planning programmes for couples.
Dr Boladale Alonge, Director, Family Health, Federal Ministry of Health, restated the commitment on Wednesday in Abuja while declaring open the 2023 Annual Family Planning Technical Review meeting.
Alonge was represented by an official of the ministry, Mrs Bako Aiyegbusi.
Ayegbusi said the Federal Government was determined to eliminate challenges militating against the uptake of family planning programmes.
She explained that the meeting would offer opportunities to close gaps existing in family planning advocacy and implementation.
“It is pertinent to note that the Federal Ministry of Health is working to expand access to family planning commodities.
“The Federal Government has developed policies to ensure that every couple has access to family planning programmes,’’ she said.
She expressed gratitude to UN Population Fund and to other multilateral partners for their support and assured that cultural beliefs and other barriers militating against family planning would be overcome.
In her remarks, Mrs Roseline Ode, Practice Area Lead, Family Planning/Reproductive Health Society for Family Health (an international NGO), said the meeting was necessary to scale up services for family planning.
Ode described family planning as fundamental to reducing maternal mortality rate and promoting the production of qualitative children.
She noted that family planning was imperative for couples the world over.
Dr Ejike Oji, Chairman, Technical Management Committee, Association for the Advancement of Family Planning, another international NGO, said that progress was being made in the implementation of “Family Planning-2030’’ goals.
Oji affirmed Nigeria’s commitment to achieving unmet needs for family planning, which he said was paramount in realising the 27 per cent commitment by Nigeria. (NAN)
Expert Attributes Pelvic Inflammation in Women to Poor Menstrual Hygiene
Dr Abdullahi Kabiru, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital, Bauchi (ATBUTH), has attributed the cases of pelvic inflammation infection among women to poor menstrual hygiene.
According to him, pelvic inflammation infections are caused by poor sanitary attitude among women, especially the use of unclean sanitary pads.
Kabiru stated this in an interview in Bauchi on Wednesday, saying other infections likely to affect such women are urinary track infection (UTI) and viginal infections.
“Without menstrual hygiene, women are at risk of infections such as the inflammation of the pelvic among others,” he said.
“Communities and parents need to be sensitised on the imperative of menstrual hygiene and management to make women at ease and interact freely in the society,” he added.
“The social, economic and psychological challenges experienced by women during menstruation can led to depression because girls and women are stigmatised,” he said.
He stressed that long-term consequences of the infections could led to issues around pregnancy.
He, therefore, advocated for access to water, disposal items and friendly menstrual toilets in schools to promote good hygiene during the monthly cycles among girls.
He further called for collective effort by the communities and parents towards supporting women to fight all forms of stigmatisation that could lead to depression among them. (NAN)
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