The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate, has revealed that the country diagnosed over 300,000 tuberculosis cases in 2023, marking the first time in its history that such a high number is recorded.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria, Pate made this known at the 37th STOP TB Partnership Board Meeting in Brasilia, Brazil, on Tuesday.
NAN reported that during the 37th board meeting, a presentation was made by the Stop TB Partnership regarding the TB perspective and their efforts to ensure increased and impactful Global Fund investments in TB.
Nigeria, along with other countries and civil society board members, shared their interventions, bared their minds on their experiences and perspectives with the Global Fund.
“In 2023, Nigeria diagnosed over 300,000 TB cases for the first time in its history, reducing the missing case gap and positioning the country to achieve its 2025 National Strategic Plan targets.
“At the 2023 UN High-level Meeting (UN HLM) on Universal Health Coverage (UHC), Nigeria reached about 70 per cent of its cumulative target and approximately 90 per cent of the 2022 target,” he said.
Emphasizing on the progress made, the Minister note that the country remained committed to reaching a 100 per cent treatment coverage rate and increasing TB preventive therapy coverage.
He declared that the country was also documenting strategic initiatives and best practices to tackle case-finding challenges in a high-burden country.
“The achievements in Nigeria’s TB control programme would not have been possible without the support of partners such as USAID, GFATM, WHO, Stop TB Partnership, CDC, DoD, and Civil Society Organisations.
“The programme staff, especially the front-line workers, were also recognised for their dedication in providing TB services, even during emergencies and crises,” he said.
Pate said that the landmark achievements represented a major step forward in reducing the missing cases gap, and positions the country on track to achieving its 2025 National Strategic Plan targets for TB control.
“The increase in TB diagnoses is a testament to Nigeria’s commitment to tackling the disease head-on and implementing innovative strategies.
“Through a combination of data-driven interventions, evidence-based approaches, and technologically enhanced activities, Nigeria has made remarkable progress in identifying and treating TB cases.
“The achievement is particularly noteworthy considering the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Despite the disruptions caused by the global health crisis, Nigeria’s TB program demonstrated resilience and adaptability, ensuring that TB services continued to be provided to those in need,” he said.
The Minister reasoned that with continued support from partners and stakeholders, the country was well-positioned to build upon this achievement and make further strides in its fight against TB.
“The country’s dedication to ending the TB epidemic aligns with the global efforts to eliminate this devastating disease, bringing hope for a healthier future for all,” he said.
He said as a result of these interventions, Nigeria saw a 15 per cent increase in annual TB case notification from 120,266 cases in 2019 to 138,591 cases in 2020, even during the pandemic when global TB notification dropped by 18 per cent.
The Minister stated that in 2021, the country achieved a massive 50 per cent increase in annual TB notifications, reaching 207,785 TB cases in 2022.
He went further that Nigeria’s President introduced the transformation of the health sector through four pillars, including effective governance, improved population health outcomes, unlocking the healthcare value chain, and strengthening health security within Africa and globally.
Pate identified the need to make TB an issue of social justice and to balance people’s orientation with the development and delivery of new tools.
He then called for investment in the healthcare value chain and the encouragement of local manufacturing of diagnostics, therapeutics, and medical equipment.
“This approach would promote economic evolution and foster genuine partnerships across countries involved in the TB control campaign,” he said.
He stressed that the country’s dedication to innovation, data-driven interventions, and collaboration with partners has demonstrated the potential to make significant progress in combating TB and improving public health outcomes.
He then invited all participants to join Nigeria in spreading the lessons learned and best practices in tackling TB case-finding challenges at a public event scheduled for July 2024.
NAN reported that TB is an infectious disease caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It primarily affects the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body.
TB spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, and it can be life-threatening if not treated properly.
Symptoms include persistent cough, fever, weight loss, and night sweats. Treatment typically involves a combination of antibiotics taken over several months.