Health Experts Raise Concern Over Increase In Multi-drug Resistant TB

By Prudence Ijah, Abuja


Ahead of this year’s World Tuberculosis day, health experts are advocating for improved diagnosis to address the rising cases of multi drug resistant tuberculosis. 
Speaking at the  pre-world TB day Media briefing in Abuja, the KNVC Executive Director Dr Bethrand Odume, said the emergence of multi drug resistant TB poses a major health threat, and could put at risk, the gains made in efforts to end tuberculosis in Nigeria. 
On diagnosing tuberculosis in children, Dr Odume said it has remained very difficult but KNVC through the fund have been introducing new innovations using the stool and the gen-xpert machine. 
In his words,  “KNCV is piloting new innovations, especially with the use of the stool and gen-xpert to improve diagnosis of TB cases. We also piloted the use of portable Xray machines which we used to detect close to 80 new TB cases in the creek communities.” 
“KNCV in the state works directly with the TB program, not only supporting facilities active TB case findings, TB search,  where we ensure everybody that walks into the TB facilities are screened for TB. 
Great success stories have emerged, people that accompany people to the hospital have been detected to have TB, our interventions have helped in the diagnosis of TB.”
“People that have cough out of fear of covid, actually denying they don’t have cough, our interventions have opened community case findings.” 
We all know that in Nigeria 60%  of the populace seek for care in the private sector, and there is no way we can control TB without having a handshake with the private sector and this approach has helped a great deal.” 
Earlier, the World Health Organization (WHO) representative Dr Amos Omoniyi.commended the TB program in Nigeria, for the progress made so far.
 TB program in Nigeria recorded progress despite the lockdown measures, the TB program in Nigeris recorded an increase in the number of cases, last year 120,266 in 2019, to about 138, 573 in 2020. He added that there has been a decline in cases. 
Dr Omoniyi who said this year’s theme which says “the clock is ticking” is a clarion call, as it is time to scale up every interventions that is working, time for us to ensure everyone in the country has the right TB information. 
According to him, government’s political commitment towards fighting the scourge of TB is not enough. Government’s put in about four out of 15 percent supposedly set aside as TB commitment. Partners put in about 60%. That means we have about 64% funding commitment. There are still funding gaps that need to be filled.”
He called for all hands to be on deck, adding that government need to increase their commitment, as there is need to increase domestic funding as for  sustainability to be achieved, the funding will not continue to come from international agencies.
 The TB Team lead, USAID Nigeria, Dr Temitayo Odusote stressed the need for more more stakeholders and partners to come on board and join the fight against TB.
Odusote said “Corporate organisations need to assist us and the government in combatting this disease. We cannot do it without increased partnership”. 
Earlier, the National Coordinator of TB Control Program Dr Chukwuma Anyaike said he federal government and partners have have detected 138,000 cases of tuberculosis last year, in  Nigeria. 
World Tuberculosis day is commemorated every 24th March to raise awareness on TB and increase stakeholders involvement in the control of TB. 

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