Abuja — The First Lady and wife of Nigeria's President, Hajia Aisha Buhari has given assurance that she will use her good offices to rally support, sensitise members of the public and mobilise funds towards efforts to end tuberculosis prevalence in the country.
This pledge was given on a recent on a recent Wednesday at the opening ceremony of the two-day National Tuberculosis Conference that held in Abuja.
Her pledge came just as the Federal Ministry of Health lamented that over 120,000 Nigerians were dying annually due to tuberculosis disease.
The first lady who was represented by her Chief of Staff, Hajo Sani urged government at all levels to provide more funds for the efforts to stop tuberculosis in Nigeria.
As part of efforts to mobilise resources for the eradication of tuberculosis, Buhari said she intends to solicit the support of all first ladies in the 36 states of the federation towards helping to lobby for more funds to be budgeted for the purpose of fighting tuberculosis scourge.
The Director of Public Health, FMOH, Dr. Evelyn Ngige who represented the Permanent Secretary of the ministry said: "71 per cent of the tuberculosis patients and their households in the country are affected by medical costs due to tuberculosis. Over 120,000 Nigerians die annually from tuberculosis disease."
Ngige used the opportunity to list some of the measures being implemented by the federal government to check tuberculosis disease.
She said: "Some of the giant strides made by government through the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme in the fight against tuberculosis disease in Nigeria include amongst others, the establishment of National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Training Centres in Zaria to undertake human resource development of manpower in the treatment of tuberculosis.
"Currently we have 2,856 tuberculosis microscopic centres nationwide, 394 G-Net installed machines nationwide, 9,625 tuberculosis treatment dot centres nationwide, and 10 tuberculosis reference laboratories nationwide".
In addition, Ngige said that 23 out of the 36 states of the federation have centres for management of drug resistant tuberculosis, adding that government decentralised the treatment of the tuberculosis disease up to rural communities.
Representative of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission Director in Nigeria, Ya Diul Mukadi said the donor group has spent a total of $207 million on various intervention programmes in the country.
According to him, the intention of the United States government was to see if tuberculosis scourge can be wiped out by 2020.
A Kenyan legislator and Chairman, African Parliamentary TB Caucus, Stephen Mule cautioned Nigeria against relying on foreign donor agencies to fund intervention measures on TB treatment and eradication, adding that such donor funds were fast drying up.
He also urged members of the legislature to help vote more funds for the effort to stop tuberculosis disease.
The Board Chairman of Stop Tuberculosis Partnership Nigeria, Prof. Lovett Lawson said that presently Nigeria was among the 14 countries listed by the World Health Organisation WHO as high burden countries for tuberculosis scourge.
He said that although the National Tuberculosis programme has made some incremental progress in the quality of treatment and care over the years, the treatment coverage has remained low at 25 per cent.
Lawson also said that case notifications about tuberculosis have stagnated over the last five years.