The theme of World TB Day 2021 – ‘The Clock is Ticking’
Health Organisation on Tuesday said the country is far from achieving its target of diagnosing, treating and placing TB patients on preventive therapy in the 2021-2025 National TB Strategic Plan.
The WHO Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombos, raised this fear at a briefing to commemorate the 2021 Wold Tuberculosis Day and official inauguration of the Unified National TB Campaign.
He expressed disappointment at the poor budgetary funding of TB, saying this was a major threat to Nigeria’s achievement of its targets, which was committed to at the United Nations High-Level Meeting on TB in 2018.
While applauding the 15 per cent increase in TB case notifications in the country in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Mulombos stressed the need to find the missing cases through surveillance.
He said, “Low TB case detection remains a major challenge in the TB control efforts in Nigeria with the country only detecting 27 per cent of the estimated incident TB cases. The un-detected TB cases can further constitute a pool of reservoir that fuel the on-going transmission of TB in the community, as one undetected infectious TB case is able to infect between 12 – 15 people per year.
“Nigeria at the UNHLM on TB in 2018 made a commitment to diagnose and treat over 1.1 million TB cases and place about 2.2 million clients on TB preventive Therapy from 2018 to 2022. The country is far away from achieving these targets with less than two years to go.
“TB control budgets in Nigeria continue to be drastically underfunded. About 70 per cent of the TB budget in 2020 were unfunded, this is a major threat to the country’s efforts in achieving the set targets.”
The USAID Acting Mission Director, Katie Donohoe, reiterated commitment to support Nigeria get control of TB, but warned that if detection, diagnosis and treatment of TB was not prioritised and increased, the country may not be able to reach its set targets.
Each year, we commemorate World Tuberculosis (TB) Day on March 24 to raise public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of TB, and to step up efforts to end the global TB epidemic. The date marks the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the bacterium that causes TB, which opened the way towards diagnosing and curing this disease.
TB remains one of the world’s deadliest infectious killers. Each day, nearly 4000 lose their lives to TB and close to 28,000 people fall ill with this preventable and curable disease. Global efforts to combat TB have saved an estimated 63 million lives since the year 2000.
The theme of World TB Day 2021 – ‘The Clock is Ticking’ –conveys the sense that the world is running out of time to act on the commitments to end TB made by global leaders. This is especially critical in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic that has put End TB progress at risk, and to ensure equitable access to prevention and care in line with WHO’s drive towards achieving Universal Health Coverage.