By Prudence Ijah
Stop Tuberculosis partnership stakeholders have advocated for the inclusion of tuberculosis in the basic health care provision fund as a means of access to improved funding for TB management in the country.
This was part of the presentation at the virtual TB Media Roundtable, on the theme: “Impact of COVID-19 on TB: Challenges and Opportunities for Service Delivery, Policy and Financing” held in Abuja.
The Country Director for Health Policy Plus Francesca Ilika in her presentation said state ownership of Tuberculosis is critical to the control of TB in Nigeria. She also called for the inclusion of Tuberculosis in State Health Insurance Schemes for proper management as there are other deadly diseases like TB which requires an increase in government funding.
In her words, “domestic resource mobilization is key and from the COVID-19 experience, we need to stimulate private sector investment in TB while external funding needs to be increased.
The use of gene xpert machines for TB test has strengthened the molecular laboratories but we need to buy more gene xpert machines for increase in testing” Ilika said.
The Chairman Stop TB Partnership Nigeria, Dr Ayodele Awe, called for rapid progress in case finding of tuberculosis cases as case detection is still 24% to 27% as against the target that was set to be achieved by the end of the year.
According to Dr Awe, over three hundred thousand new cases of TB are identified yearly but only twenty-five percent of the figure has been identified
Earlier, the Coordinator, National Tuberculosis Programme in Nigeria, Dr Adebola Lawanson, revealed that the symptoms of COVID-19 is similar to tuberculosis hence the rise in transmission of TB cases as most carriers infected other people during the lockdown.
She said the stay at home message for COVID-19 reinforced stigmatization of tuberculosis patients while lack of access to health facilities contributed to the increase in TB cases in the country.
She said “there is an increase in multi drug resistant tuberculosis as the impact of COVID-19 affected health facilities, monitoring and drug supervision for TB patients, while health care workers were not willing to carry out TB case finding”.
On the new normal, Dr Lawson said the community approach in combating COVID-19 which entails contact tracing will be effectively adopted in the tracing of TB patients in the communities.
The media round table which witnessed presentations from various partners called for a multisectoral approach in TB control and management. The round table also wants to achieve its target of eradicating TB from Nigeria just as wild virus polio was eradicated