House Deplores Reliance on Foreign Donors to Tackle Tuberculosis Scourge

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

As Nigeria grapples with the devastating health burden of tuberculosis, the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Control, Hon. Amobi Ogah, has expressed worry that funding for intervention programmes is coming mainly from foreign donors with little support by the federal government.

Speaking at the World Tuberculosis Day Road Work organised by National Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Burulie Ulcer Control Programme (NTLBCP) in Abuja on Monday, Ogah said Nigeria’s current statistics on TB is worrisome, adding that the country ranks first in Africa and sixth in the world, accounting for about 4.6 per cent of global TB burden.

Ogah said regretted that activities mapped to address the tuberculosis scourge is 70 per cent unfunded due mainly to poor funding from domestic sources.

He said: “The theme for this year is ‘Yes We Can End TB’ and I make bold to say truly we can end TB only if state actors and key stakeholders and the general public come together and form a united and strong coalition to confront and finally address this public health menace of Tuberculosis .

“To this end government, private sector and Civil Society Organisations and the general public must close ranks and collaborate for the mutual goal of ending TB in Nigeria.

“It is indeed disheartening to note that of the $38 million required to fight TB in Nigeria, 24 per cent came from international funding sources with only 6 per cent from domestic sources, leaving a gap of 70 per cent unfunded”.

The lawmaker said that the government must take the lead in the fight against TB by providing the necessary funds needed to drive the process of ending TB by year 2030.

“As parliamentarians, we have taken up this challenge and we will strengthen advocacy for more government interventions in the area of allocation and release of resources to fight TB and less dependency on foreign grants and donations.

“As a country, we must also deliberately invest in building capacity of health workers. We need to put in place systems to ensure early detection and management of TB,  procurement of equipment like Gene ex-Pert Machines to facilitate easy diagnosis at all local governments across the country.

“We must also invest in research and development, as well as data gathering as we can no longer rely on obsolete data in making informed decisions on programmes for ending TB,” he said.

Ogah said that one key message to Nigerians on this year’s world TB Day is for everyone to stop stigmatising and discriminating against people infected  with TB.

“A person who is already on treatment and taking their medications correctly can no longer spread the disease and this means they have the right to work, right to association, right to dignity, right to health, right to freedom from torture, freedom of movement and right to housing,” he added.

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