Health

State ownership critical to controlling TB – Experts

Experts in the health sector have said state ownership of Tuberculosis (TB) was critical to controlling the disease which kills about 245 Nigerians every year and records about 590,000 new cases according to statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The experts, who made this known during a TB media roundtable with the theme: ‘Impact of COVID-19 on TB: Challenges and Opportunities for Service Delivery, Policy and Financing,’ also raised concerns over the increasing cases of TB in the country, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Worried over the sad development, Country Director, USAID Health Policy Plus Project, Francesca Ilika, stressed the need for TB inclusion in State Health Insurance Schemes to ensure proper management of the disease, while urging government at all levels to increase TB case finding in the country.
In her words: “We are going to need the highest level of political commitment as well as commitment across all levels of all the people who work in and outside the health sector.
“Domestic resources mobilisation is key. We need to move away from dependent on donor funding for TB to actually improve our budget allocation for TB.
“A lot of effort is needed from the national level including from the parliamentarians and the executives to make sure that we provide adequate funding for TB and make sure that these funds are released both at the national and state levels and ensure that it goes down to the facility level where it can actually make impact at the community level. We need to also stimulate private sector investment.”
Chairman, Stop TB Partnership Nigeria, Ayodele Awe, urged state and local governments to emulate Kaduna State government and procure mobile Gene Xpert machines also capable of testing for COVID-19 and TB at same time.
While lamenting Nigeria was still missing 300,000 new TB cases every year, he said there was need to set up a Presidential Task Force on TB to give the disease the much needed attention it requires, in order to save more lives.
“We need the same type of Presidential Task Force on TB. The TB programme for the past two years has tried to stimulate the government to say, have a Presidential Task Force, lets bring people together. TB funding is very low it is only supported through Global Fund and partners.”

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