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Total eradication of TB will cost Nigeria N147bn – US agency

*Says 18 people die hourly from TB

By Doosuur Iwambe, Abuja

Despite significant progress made over the last decade to eradicate tuberculosis in Nigeria, the United States Centre for Disease Control (US -CDC) says that Nigeria still requires N147 billion to completely eradicate the disease.

Speaking while addressing journalists on the pre-world TB Day activities coming up on March 24, in Abuja on Thursday, the US-CDC representative, Dr. Bethrand Odume said that the required sum will take care of multi – drug resistant TB and diagnosis among others.

The briefing which was organized by the Stop TB Partnership Nigeria in collaboration with the National Tuberculosis, Buruli Ulcer and Leprosy Control Programme and other development partners was set up to discuss new ways of getting domestic funds to sustain TB financing in Nigeria.

Dr. Odume said that the estimated cost is expected to be raised by the government, communities, private sector, international donors and individuals.

According to him, 18 people reportedly die every hour as a result of the disease thereby, ranking Nigeria sixth globally with a percentage of nine per cent and the first in Africa after India and Indonesia with 26 and 11 per cent respectively.

He said the theme of this year’s world Tuberculosis Day: “It’s time!” and slogan: “To end TB in Nigeria (keep the promise! Find TB! Treat TB),” is apt hence TB has remained a top infectious killer disease worldwide, claiming over 4, 500 lives a day.

While lamenting that most of the funding for the disease come from foreign donors, he said that the lack of will is unacceptable and should be discouraged.

“To control TB in Nigeria, the sum of N147 billion has been estimated. N35 billon of that amount which is about 24 per cent has been met.

To be very sincere, over time, there has been an increase in funding within the national TB programme and government has actually come up to rise to its responsibilities, but the gap of 75 per cent still remains.

“We are looking at how to come about filling this gap. For this approach, government must be there. One missing gap in Nigeria is that the private sector is not really coming up and that is where the Stop TB partnership in Nigeria comes in,’’ he said.

On his part, the National Coordinator, National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme, Dr. Lovett Lawanson, lamented the increasing pool of drug resistant TB in the country, saying it has continued to be a major threat to the control of TB.

Represented by Senior Programme Officer, NTBLCP, Mr. Emperor Ubochioma, he said that the proportion of missing TB cases among children is more worrisome, as the country was only able to notify seven per cent of the estimated childhood TB cases in 2017.

“This implies that a large number of TB cases are still undetected and missing, thereby constituting a pool for continuous transmission of the disease in the community. The missing TB cases in Nigeria can be found among men, women and children with different forms of TB, including drug resistant TB.

“The proportion of missing TB cases among children is more worrisome, as the country was only able to notify seven percent,” he said.

Earlier Mrs. Funke Dosumu, a TB advocate who stressed the need to address the issue of stigmatization, stressed the need for more awareness, saying the disease can be treated if it is detected early.

Tuberculosis, an infectious disease caused by bacteria is a leading cause of death worldwide, despite being preventable and often curable.