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Friday, July 19, 2024

First Lady of Nigeria contributes N1 billion towards combating tuberculosis

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Nigeria’s First Lady, Oluremi Tinubu, has donated N1 billion through the Renewed Hope Initiative (RHI) to support the fight to end the Tuberculosis epidemic in Nigeria by 2030.

Mrs Tinubu made the donation Thursday during her investiture as the Global and National Stop TB Champion at the State House in Abuja.

According to a statement signed by Mrs Tinubu’s media aide, Busola Kukoyi, other first ladies from the 36 states were also honoured as Stop TB champions in their various states.

Mrs Tinubu, a former lawmaker, also dedicated the investiture “to Daniel, one of my staff, who unfortunately lost his life to the disease and to others who we have lost just like him by remaining silent”.

“Starting from now, let us work together by showing compassion, and understanding to end stigma and discrimination”.

Nigeria’s First Lady, Oluremi Tinubu, has donated N1 billion through RHI to end the Tuberculosis epidemic in Nigeria

According to the World Health Organisation, TB is a disease caused by a bacterium (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that often affects the lungs.

WHO said a total of 1.3 million people died from TB in 2022, including 167,000 people with HIV. Globally, TB is the second leading infectious killer disease after COVID-19 (above HIV and AIDS).

Nigeria is ranked sixth and first country with a high burden of TB in the world and Africa respectively.

Nigeria’s commitment

Mrs Tinubu applauded the role of the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in raising awareness which has led to a significant improvement in case finding, treatment, and coverage of the disease.

“Let me acknowledge the efforts of all stakeholders at the national, regional, and global levels towards addressing the TB epidemic, following the adoption of the Political Declaration at the United Nations High-Level Meeting held in New York in September, 2023,” she said.

She added that President Bola Tinubu is also fully committed to the fight against tuberculosis and achieving the goals outlined in the Political Declaration, alongside other national goals towards ensuring a healthier and more prosperous Nigeria.

Speaking to the Stop TB champions, she said: “This designation is not just a title, but it carries with it the power to make a difference.

“I kindly appeal that you all use your exalted positions to amplify awareness about Tuberculosis, to end the stigma associated with it, and to help patients in your respective states access the available treatments and support”.

Progress

In her remarks, the Executive Director of Global Stop TB Partnership, Geneva, Lucica Ditiu, appealed to Nigeria to mobilise domestic resources for the purpose of addressing the scourge.

While she commended Nigeria’s efforts in eradicating TB, Ms Ditti said: “Nigeria has a huge burden of TB, it is not a shame, it is not a problem.

“There is a big ambition, and there are amazing achievements that have taken place. Nigeria used to have about 70 per cent missing cases of TB but in 2023, Nigeria had 70 per cent TB notification. So, the country cannot go back. Nigeria cannot afford to perform worse afterward.

She said: “Nigeria doesn’t need technical assistance to fight TB. Nigeria knows how to diagnose, detect, and treat their people. There are innovative ways to source the needed funds for TB response, especially from the private sector.

‘“Nigeria has leaders who care about the health of their people. The African nation needs a lot of push, let’s do what we can to end TB. This is a collective effort.”

Nigeria’s response

On his part, the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Muhammad Pate, said the government is currently equipping the Primary Health Care Centres (PHCs) with essential facilities and personnel to deliver comprehensive services, particularly in rural and underserved areas, to improve health outcomes and reduce the burden of preventable diseases such as TB.

Mr Pate stated that efforts at ending the TB epidemic in Nigeria resulted in the expansion of TB treatment services (DOTs centres) to about 22,000 health facilities and GeneXpert equipment – a rapid molecular test for TB.

“We are scaling up the use of digital X-ray with artificial intelligence for TB screening among key and vulnerable populations (including children) as we currently boast of 51 mobile digital X-ray platforms nationwide within the program, and an additional 350 digital X-ray machines will be available before the end of June 2024,” he said.

READ ALSO: HIV-Tuberculosis Fight: Nigerian govt receives vehicles, equipment from Global Fund 

“As part of our diagnostic optimisation plan, we have also instituted a strong specimen referral network utilising a hub-and-spoke model that was responsible for the transport of over 2.4 million samples in 2023 for TB tests.”

The minister added that the government is adopting an all-of-society approach through collaborations with the private sector and the community in the fight to end TB in the country.

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