FG committed to eradicating tuberculosis in Nigeria – Health Minister Ehanire

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The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, on Friday, reiterated his commitment to work assiduously with all stakeholders towards eradicating tuberculosis in Nigeria.

Ehanire disclosed this while lamenting that there is a high burden of tuberculosis in Nigeria, adding that there is a significant gap in some critical aspects of Nigeria’s national response to the bacteria.

He spoke at a ministerial press briefing in commemoration of the 2023 World Tuberculosis Day in Abuja.

Represented by the Minister of State for Health, Ekumankama Joseph Nkama, the minister said Nigeria ranked 5th among the highest tuberculosis-burdened nations in the world.

He said: “I am delighted to address this distinguished audience of eminent personalities on this auspicious occasion of the 2023 World Tuberculosis (TB) Day. It is an important milestone in our efforts to end the TB epidemic, a deadly but curable disease.

“As you may be aware, World TB Day is a global event commemorated annually, on the 24th of March to raise public awareness of TB and efforts made to prevent and treat the disease. It affords us an opportunity to assess progress towards achieving the End TB strategy and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“TB is a major public health problem, globally, likewise in Nigeria. According to the 2022 World Health Organization Global TB report, Nigeria is ranked 6th globally and 1st in Africa with an estimated 467, 000 TB cases in 2021.

“Nigeria ranks 5th in the world among countries with the highest burden of childhood TB. The country is equally one of the 10 countries in the world with a triple burden of TB, drug-resistant TB and HIV-associated TB.

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“The main drivers of the TB burden in the country are undernutrition, HIV, diabetes mellitus, smoking and alcohol use with the working age group of 15 to 44 years mostly affected by TB and TB death. Furthermore, low awareness about TB is a major challenge as only one out of every four Nigerians has adequate knowledge of TB.”

The minister stressed that the Nigerian government has prioritised ending tuberculosis in the country.

“Based on the foregoing, ending the TB epidemic is a top priority of the government. In line with the government’s effort to ensure good health and well-being for all Nigerians as envisioned in SDG 3, the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) through the NTBLCP with the support of our committed and dependable partners have initiated a number of laudable TB control interventions.

“The country has in place a number of relevant policy documents to chart a strategic direction for the control of the infection. These include the National Guidelines for TB Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment, the National Strategic Plan (NSP-2021-2025), and the compendium of best practices among others,” he said.

He further noted that the Nigerian government has adopted and is scaling up new global innovations in every sphere of the response to ensure improved access and “the efficiency of the interventions.”

He added: “For example, the GeneXpert equipment – a rapid molecular test for TB – has increased from 32 in 2012 to 503 in 2022. The mobile digital x-ray with artificial intelligence, for TB screening among key and vulnerable populations, is being strategically scaled up across the country.”

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