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Nigeria Commemorates 2020 World TB Day while responding to COVID-19 outbreak

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Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, during a Press briefing to commemorate the World Tuberculosis (TB) Day, also emphasized the need to swiftly contain the spread of COVID-19 virus in the country.

The commemoration this year is masked by the raging COVID-19 pandemic and the minister used the opportunity of the Ministerial Press briefing to also mention that, “COVID-19 pandemic presents a challenge for the survival of our nation, it is a challenge we shall overcome. The Federal Government is leaving no stone unturned to contain the pandemic in the country. I urge all of us to play our role as citizens.”

Dr Ehanire enjoined people who have had contact with confirmed cases or those who recently returned from trips to endemic countries, to observe self-isolation as he said, “Do not leave your house during the self-isolation period. As much as possible, please stay in one room. You should strictly limit your contact with people including family.” 

Every year on March 24, Nigeria joins the world to commemorate World Tuberculosis (TB) Day. Aimed at raising public awareness on the devastating health, social and economic consequences of TB and to step up efforts to end the global TB epidemic. The theme for this years' commemoration "It's time to end TB in Nigeria" and the slogan "check that cough, time no dey (meaning check that cough, there’s no time)" is in alignment with the countries kick-out TB initiative. 

Dr Ehanire stated that in line with the END TB strategy, Federal Ministry of Health, with the support of partners has made some strides in the fight against TB in Nigeria. “We have adopted new rapid diagnostic tools as well as child-friendly medicines for drug susceptible and drug resistant TB (DR-TB). It is noteworthy that Nigeria is among the few countries in the world that immediately commenced use of child-friendly medicines for DR-TB after development.” 

He added that “Since 2008 till date, over a million Nigerians have been successfully treated for TB. We have also recorded good case holding as evidenced by a Treatment success rate (TSR) consistently above 80% for the past 5 years. We are intensifying efforts to ensure Universal Health Coverage with TB services.”   

The commemoration serves as a period for Nigeria to reflect on its progress towards achievement of its END TB strategy and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets. According to the 2019 Global TB report, Nigeria is ranked number one in Africa and globally sixth amongst the 30 high TB burden countries and is also among the 14 countries in the world with the triple high burden of TB, TB/HIV and Drug Resistant TB (DR-TB). It is estimated that 429,000 people in Nigeria have TB each year (WHO Global TB report, 2019. In addition, there are an estimated 53,000 HIV positive people that get TB each year and an estimated 157,000 people die from TB in Nigeria including an estimated 32,000 people living with HIV.

In order to make substantial progress towards meeting the global target for Ending the TB in 2030, all stakeholders must join hand together with Government to adopt a multi sectorial approach towards TB control particularly in addressing the issue of the 24%, low case finding, 30% low awareness of TB among the general populace, and 25% Universal Health facility coverage, and the 40% Gene Xpert coverage of the LGAs. 

WHO is currently working with partners to train health workers in TB prevention and care in order to reach high-risk groups and ensure best practices are applied but governments need to increase domestic investments in TB, and to strengthen regulatory environments to facilitate importation, monitoring and use of quality products. Guidance for health-care providers is the implementation of minimum standards of care in line with WHO recommendations on diagnostics, treatment regimens and preventive therapy for high-risk groups.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of WHO Regional Office for Africa.


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