The low notification of child Tuberculosis cases is a worrying development which poses a serious threat to efforts geared towards containing the menace of TB in Nigeria.
This is according to the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire in Abuja during the Ministerial Press Briefing to commemorate the 2022 World TB Day.
While he disclosed that Nigeria recorded an appreciable figure in child TB cases in 2021, the Minister warned of high proportion of missing child TB cases in the country which boasts of 6 percent notification, a distance from the WHO benchmark of 12 per cent.
The Minister warned that untreated drug-resistant tuberculosis patients could endanger the lives of other Nigerians as they will continuously spread the disease.
“Only 2,197 (74%) of diagnosed DR-TB patients were enrolled on treatment in 2021. This is not encouraging as it is a far cry from our target of 100% enrolment for diagnosed DR-TB patients. These untreated DR-TB patients constitute a time bomb as they continuously spread DR-TB in our communities”.
The World Health Organization (WHO) Representative, Walter Malombo lauded the Nigerian Government for its initiative of facilitating the inclusion of TB interventions in state health insurance schemes in a bid to increasing counterpart budgetary allocation for current Global Fund grant.
The global health body expressed dismay that while national strategic plans and accompanying budgets for tuberculosis have grown in ambition, mobilization of funding has not kept pace as in 2020 while the global spending on TB services fell to five point three billion dollars and funding for research was nine hundred and one million dollars.
“The Hon Minister may therefore consider facilitating all states to include TB in their health insurance schemes as they become operational.
“WHO will continue to support towards keeping TB control strategies up to date, strengthening partnerships, fostering innovation, finding missing cases and building capacity for all facets of TB control,” WHO assured.
Representing the United States Agency for International Development (USAID,) Chukwuma Anyaike commended the Government of Nigeria for its stride in increasing TB case detection from more than 100,000 in 2018 to more than 200,000 in 2021.
Anyaike who is the National Coordinator of the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme in Nigeria expressed satisfaction with the significant increase in case finding and treatment coverage in the past two years, just as he called for improved commitments if Nigeria is to meet its TB control targets.
‘’Since 2003, Nigeria has remained in the top 10 countries affected by TB, with one of the lowest detection rates globally.
‘’This year’s World TB Day theme, “Invest to End TB, Saves Lives” is a call to action that resonates with the most critical needs of Nigeria’s National TB Program.
‘’It is necessary to mobilize domestic resources to fill this gap through budgetary allocation and innovations in health insurance,” Anyaike advised.