Kuni Tyessi, Abuja
Nigeria is said to be among the 14 high burden countries for Tuberculosis (TB), TB/HIV and multi-drug resistant TB and has also been ranked seventh among the 30 high TB burden countries in the world and second in Africa.
According to the WHO, this has been made worse by the issues of drug resistant TB and the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
It has been estimated that 407,000 people in Nigeria contact TB every year. This is the estimated number of HIV negative people.
In addition, there is an estimated 63,000 HIV positive people that get TB every ear. An estimated 115,000 HIV negative people die from TB every year and an estimated 39,000 HIV positive people also die.
It has been said that achieving the reduction in TB incidence rate for attainment of the 90-90-90 target of the END TB strategy will be a mirage, if something drastic is not done.
The incidence rate is the number of new cases of TB in a population in a given time period, which is usually a year.
In the recently concluded United Nations General Assembly, and in the presentation titled “United to End Tuberculosis: An Urgent Global Response to a Global Epidemic”, President Muhammadu Buhari emphasised that Nigeria is ready and prepared to use every means possible to tackle the scourge of TB, especially in a period when the pain of the disease, and its dire consequences on the health and socioeconomic development of many is on the rise.
As a global challenge that requires consistent and an all-inclusive global strategy based on research and discovery of new drugs, he said such efforts must also include mobilisation of funds and global partnership of relevant stakeholders working together to frontally address the scourge.
“The task before us therefore is to initiate a global response towards eradicating the disease especially in developing countries, where counter-measures are sometimes beyond the capacity of such nations.
In addition, there is the need to develop new strategies that connect national responses with international finance and technical partnership to stop the ravaging disease.”
Noting that Nigeria welcomes the adoption of the political declaration, especially its relevant provisions which committed to provide diagnosis and treatment to 40 million people, including 3.5 million children between 2018 and 2022, Buhari said the declaration should also serve as a template for preventing TB for those most-at-risk, through rapid scale up of access to testing the infection, especially for the high- burdened countries.
He said: “Our national TB eradication strategy has long been structured to provide tailored quality services in terms of diagnosis, treatment and prevention.
” Since assuming office in May 2015, we consistently increased budget appropriation for the health sector. This is with a view to ensuring that we promote the well-being of our people through access to qualitative health care services.
” In this regard, we are investing in research and development in our various public and specialised institutions.”
He disclosed that the national action plan on TB eradication 2015-2020 is being pursued with renewed vigour which HSS being structured on five overarching priorities which include: detection of TB in adults and children, improving treatment in specific geographic areas that are underperforming, integrating TB and HIV services, building capacity for diagnosing and treating drug resistant TB, as well as creating a strong and sustainable system to support these achievements among others.
Also, private sector engagement for TB is being stridently pursued as a robust Public-Private Mix (PPM).
Little wonder, YURiA Pharm, a Ukrainian manufacturer of TB treatment drugs, in collaboration with Kleef and Helixor pharmaceuticals Nigeria limited, are set to offer a wide range of products which includes Isoniazid Syrup, used for the most effective and safe treatment and chemical prophylaxis of TB for diseased and infected children with BCG vaccination complications, as well as those who come in contact with TB patients.
The Managing Director of Kleef and Helixor Pharmaceutical Nigeria Limited, Dr. Cliff Ogbede, disclosed that the drugs have accurate dosing of syrup which ensures treatment and prophylaxis effectiveness as well as prevent aide effects.
In this connection, Nigeria’s strategic plan can be geared towards meeting the overall aims of providing Nigerians with universal access to high quality, patients centered prevention, as well as diagnosis and treatment services for Tuberculosis, TB/HIV and drugs resistance TB by 2020.
This can be feasible by exploring the possibility of establishing a financial institution dedicated to providing financial lifelines for free, comprehensive and qualitative medical treatments, with the aim to mitigate financial burden on victims and to also ensure that there’s continuity and sustainability which will save lives and create favourable conditions for economic and social development.