By Tobias Lengnan Dapam
Stakeholders have called on the Federal Government to collaborate with the national tuberculosis programme to increase case detection of tuberculosis, while it simultaneously tests for COVID-19.
The stakeholders stated this on Monday, during the TB media roundtable organised by the Stop TB Partnership.
The event was organized in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health, in Abuja.
Specifically, the National Coordinator of the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP), Dr. Adebola Lawanson, explained that during the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, there has not been sufficient progress made in TB cases finding.
Lawanson, averred that tuberculosis, like other diseases, has been worse hit during this period due to resource relocation and realignment for COVID-19.
Also, the World Health Organization (WHO) Country Representative for TB, Dr. Ayodele Awe, said COVID-19 has affected the tuberculosis program this year.
“It has affected it negatively because we have not made as much progress in finding the cases.
“Although COVID-19 and tuberculosis have similarities, we need to see how we can benefit from this new respiratory disease that has just entered into Nigeria.
This we are not seeing so much. Kaduna is a very good example of a state that has increased case finding.
“Nigeria is still missing 300,000 cases every year. We are only able to detect 25 percent of the estimated tuberculosis cases. Every LGA needs to have its own diagnostic tools. Presently, we have only 40 percent coverage of the LGAs with GeneXpert machine.
“Do you know that more people are dying of tuberculosis daily than from COVID-19. For COVID-19, it is acute but for tuberculosis, it is a chronic disease. Each hour, they are 18 deaths of tuberculosis. The total numbers of persons that have died from COVID-19 are about 1,000. But for tuberculosis, each day 430 percent die from tuberculosis.
“Each year 157,000 persons die of tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is still the top infectious killer. We need the same kind of Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 for tuberculosis.
“The domestic resources for supporting tuberculosis are still very low. TB support is majorly funded through global funds and other partners. We need the government to be as committed as what they are doing in Kaduna state.
“The EOCs in each state should collaborate with the tuberculosis program because we have structures on ground that can be used to increase detection of more COVID-19 cases because we have 12,000 dot centres in the different communities.”
On his part, the Country Director of KNCV Foundation Nigeria, Dr. Bethrand Odume, urged the government to invest more resources into tackling tuberculosis. “We must not be all dependent on external donors because we have the capacity. The only way to go is an integrated approach to health service delivery,” he said.