The wife of the president and also Global Tuberculosis (TB) ambassador, Aisha Buhari, has urged stakeholders to work together to eliminate the disease in the country.

Mrs Buhari made the call at the 2021 National TB Conference on Tuesday in Abuja, FCT.

She said that despite TB being curable, Nigeria continues to lose its citizens to it.

She noted that with the help of governors’ wives, more awareness was being created on TB, particularly in the rural areas.

She commended health workers for always responding to TB cases while giving kudos to the ministry of health for stepping up response to TB.

Mrs Buhari said that through the anti-stigma programme more people were coming forward to report TB cases and access treatments that would boost its elimination.

The minister of health, Osagie Ehanire, said that TB was one of the old infectious diseases that the world, including Nigeria, had resolved to eliminate.

“The pandemic brought 2020 global case finding levels back to 2012 level, with an 18 per cent reduction in the number of patients diagnosed with TB dropping from 7.1 million in 2019 to 5.8 million in 2020.

“Thus setting global case finding efforts back by eight years,” he explained.

The minister said that it was expected that at the end of the three-day conference, enough evidence would have been gathered and new knowledge generated to help the Global TB control efforts reverse the negative impact of the pandemic and other diseases on TB control efforts.

He also said that nine months into 2021, Nigeria had already surpassed the total number of TB cases notified in all of 2020 by about seven per cent.

According to him, for the first time, Nigeria could be notifying up to 200,000 TB cases by the end of 2021.

He commended all who were making it happen.

He further hailed the TB network, community-based organisations and health workers who were the foot soldiers, for their hard work in the fight to end TB in Nigeria.

He pointed out that Nigeria still had a long way to go to reach the targets for ending the TB epidemic, and that most of the country’s TB cases were yet undetected.

“We are not as close as we would like to the United Nations High-Level Meeting (UNHLM) target on TB case finding, TB Preventive Treatment (TPT) and other TB thematic areas set to be achieved by 2022 and the milestones for ending TB in Nigeria.

“We must, therefore, work with our partners to accelerate and scale up our current efforts significantly, mobilise needed domestic and international resources for implementing the National TB Strategic Plan 2021-2025, to end the TB epidemic in Nigeria.

“We look forward to the outcomes and reports of this conference, which we believe will help us further step up TB control efforts,” he added.

The partnering agencies reaffirmed their commitment to ending TB in Nigeria.

The groups included World Health Organisation (WHO), KNCV TB Foundation Nigeria, Nigeria Centre For Disease Control (NCDC), the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme and other TB partners.

The theme for this year conference is “Sustaining a Resilient TB Response in Nigeria: Addressing the Impact of Covid-19 and Other Diseases.”

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