Nigeria: For 170,000 Nigerians to Die From TB Disease Yearly, Is Unacceptable - Aisha Buhari

17 July 2019

Abuja — Wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, has decried the high rate of tuberculosis (TB) case detection and treatment in Nigeria, saying it is unacceptable that over 170,000 people die yearly from the disease across the country.

Mrs Buhari, who stressed the need to accelerate efforts toward combating the disease, promised to use her position to mobilise more resources for TB from government.

She spoke yesterday at the National TB Conference in Abuja with the theme: 'Building Stronger Partnerships to End TB in Nigeria'.

According to her, "Over 600,000 people become infected with TB in Nigeria every year. It is projected that up to 60,000 of those new cases affect children.

"It is also not acceptable that Nigeria is having one of the lowest TB case detection rates in the world as it is currently detecting about 25 percent of TB cases with over 170,000 Nigerians dying from a preventable and curable disease.

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This is not an enviable position and situation for any country and it must change."

She also promised to engage the wives of the 36 states governors and fellow African first ladies towards forming an alliance with a view to positioning the disease in the political agenda of governments at all levels.

On his part, the Chairman, Stop TB Partnership Nigeria, Prof. Lovett Lawson, lamented that Nigeria's TB case notifications have stagnated for over past five years.

He said, "To reverse this trend and see that Nigeria joins other nations in moving towards the 2035 global TB control targets, we must all join hands in any way to create awareness about TB, devise better ways of improving access to care and bring on board stakeholders to address the $310 funding gaps."

USAID project develops mobile app for TB detection

In a related development, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has funded the building of a mobile application that will help health workers diagnose and report TB cases to the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Program (NTBLCP).

The project, executed through the Sustaining Health Outcomes via Private Sector Plus (SHOPS Plus), seeks to overcome the challenges of missing TB cases in the country.

According to Dr. Bolanle Faleye, the USAID/SHOPS PLUS technical director for TB, "Nigeria is missing over 300,000 TB cases annually, because health workers who are not affiliated with the National TB Program do not have proper information and tools to diagnose and report confirmed TB cases to government."

To overcome that challenge, she said the mobile app, known as TB STARR, which can diagnose tuberculosis and notify the Federal Ministry of Health of confirmed cases through a web-based dashboard is available for free on Google Play store.

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