President Muhammadu Buhari has called on the international community to act in unison with rededicated efforts, using latest available technology and tools, to address the Tuberculosis (TB) epidemic.
In his goodwill message to the roundtable of the Board of the “Global Stop TB Partnership”, the president expressed concern that efforts at ending a preventable and curable disease like TB were now complicated because of COVID-19.
Mr Femi Adesina, the president’s spokesman, in a statement in Abuja on Thursday, said that Buhari’s expressed the concern in his message to the Ministers of Health at the 33rd Board Meeting of the Global Stop TB Partnership.
‘‘As I mentioned during the UN High Level Meeting in 2018, it is now even more urgent that the global community, especially the African region, act in unison with rededicated efforts, using the latest available technology and tools to address the TB epidemic.
‘‘Nigeria still ranks amongst those countries bearing the brunt of an increasing burden of TB, with a growing number of “missing” TB cases.
‘‘The reversal of Nigeria’s difficult health indices remains a top priority of this administration, including the gap in TB case detection, fuelled partly by the dearth of acceptable, accessible, affordable and patient-centred basic health facilities,’’ Buhari said.
The president said that his administration had conceptualised and was currently implementing the Primary Health Care (PHC) revitalisation programme.
He added that this was to empower more PHC centres to provide quality basic healthcare in the treatment of TB, HIV, malaria and other health challenges, delivered in a patient-centered way.
Buhari said that the Federal Government was also implementing the Basic Health Care Provision Fund, prescribed by the National Health Act, to bridge the gap in health care financing, with funds released to support the provision of a basic minimum package of health services.
“We are also improving funding of health services through voluntary contributory schemes that reduce out-of-pocket spending and the risk of catastrophic costs to patients and their families, including those with TB.”
While warning on the consequences of the increasing TB epidemic, Buhari said:
‘‘If we fail in the fight to reverse the current trend in TB prevalence, TB will continue to fight us and lead to avoidable loss of lives, especially among the economically productive age group, and among our most vulnerable groups, especially women.
‘‘It is imperative that we not only commit to ending the TB epidemic, as one of the milestones enshrined in the SDGs, but also to institute an accountability element to ensure that our commitment translates to achievement of desired results.’’
Buhari, who acknowledged that the work of the Stop TB Partnership all over the world had been so remarkable despite numerous challenges, pledged his commitment to providing the needed political leadership and support to end TB in Nigeria and globally.