By Omololu Ogunmade
President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday appealed to the international community to jointly deploy the latest available technology and tools to fight the menace of Tuberculosis (TB), one of the most deadly diseases in the world.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said the president, in his goodwill message to a roundtable conference of the board of “Global Stop TB Partnership,” expressed concern over efforts being made to end a preventable and curable disease such as TB, saying such efforts have now been complicated by the outbreak of COVID-19.
Adesina quoted Buhari as saying: ‘‘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, fueled partly by the dearth of acceptable, accessible, affordable and patient centered basic health facilities.’’
Adesina, who also listed participants at the roundtable session as ministers of health, described the event as the 33rd board meeting of the Global Stop TB Partnership.
According to him, Buhari told the meeting about efforts being made in Nigeria to reverse TB cases, submitting that his government had conceptualised and currently implementing primary health care (PHC) revitalisation programme.
According to Buhari, the revitalisation programme was conceived to empower more PHC centres with a view to providing quality basic healthcare in the treatment of TB, HIV, malaria and other health challenges delivered in a patient-centred way.
He said 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,” he said.
The president warned against the consequences of the spread of the epidemic, saying if the current trend is not reversed, TB will continue to threaten the society.
‘‘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 amongst 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,’’ he said.
The statement added that Buhari submitted that the work of the Stop TB Partnership all over the world had been remarkable despite numerous challenges, pledging his commitment to providing needed political leadership and support to end TB in Nigeria and globally.