Nigeria: Inadequate Funding Fueling TB Cases Among Nigerian Children

-Just 31% of funds available to implement control efforts in 2020

Government officials, stakeholders in public and private sectors have expressed concern over increasing cases of tuberculosis in Nigeria with growing concern among children. They opined that despite the havoc TB causes, it does not enjoy the attention it deserves.

The stakeholders and experts who gathered in Lagos at a forum tagged; Private Sector Engagement in Domestic Resource Mobilisation to End TB in Nigeria, called for more collaboration and investment.

The forum was put together by Stop TB Partnership Nigeria, as part of the High-Level Mission on Domestic Resource Mobilisation to end TB in the country.

The Board Chairman, Stop TB Partnership Nigeria, Dr. Queen Ogbuji-Ladipo, said 18 Nigerians die hourly of TB related diseases, translating to 432 deaths daily, and over 157,000 every year, noting that a reason for the unacceptable figures is limited financial resources for TB control from the national /subnational levels, and the private sector.

“Out of $373 million needed for TB control in Nigeria in 2020, just 31 percent was available to all the implementers of TB control activities in Nigeria (7 percent domestic and 24 percent donor funds) with 69 percent funding gap.

Ogbuji-Ladipo said with such financial gap, it will be impossible to reach its target.

“Nigeria can reach its target through sustainable financing, advocacy, awareness, diagnoses, treatment in every part of the country.

“I will like to remind us that TB anywhere is TB everywhere and we all need to come together to end TB in Nigeria.”

The Director and National Coordinator, National Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Buruli Ulcer Control Programme, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Chukwuma Anyaike said that the most worrisome aspect of TB presently was increasing cases of TB among children.

“When we begin to have TB infection among children, it shows that we are in serious trouble.”

It will be recalled that the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, reported that no fewer than 207,000 cases of TB were recorded in 2021, with 12,977 cases affecting children.

He added that only 28 out of 36 states of the Federation and the FCT had treatment centres for the management of drug-resistant tuberculosis.

The key challenge to the country control effort has been low notification of Child TB cases, mainly due to capacity gaps among healthcare workers in diagnosing TB in childhood.

Although Nigeria notified the highest number of child TB proportion amongst the overall TB notification for 2021 was 6 percent -far lower than the WHO benchmark of 12 per cent. This implies a high proportion of missing child TB cases in Nigeria.

In her own remark, Executive Director, Stop TB Partnership Geneva, Dr. Lucica Ditiu, said that when a plane with full passengers crashed, the world will be terrified and mourned for weeks but people that died of TB related cases on daily basis in Nigeria was more than that, yet we all feel like nothing happened.

“Out of 452,000 estimated new TB cases in Nigeria in 2020, only 138,591 were notified to the NTBLCP with 30 percent treatment coverage. The country recorded a 50 percent increase in TB notification from 138,591 TB cases in 2020 to 207,785 TB cases in 2021.

“Only 6 percent of all forms of notified TB cases in 2021 are children less than 15 years. Of an estimated 21,000 DR-TB cases recorded in 2020, only 2,061 (10 percent) were diagnosed and 72 per cent of them enrolled on second line treatment. Children get infected by their parents, and we need to do something about it, it is a collective responsibility.

“DOTs clinic is only available in 44 per cent of health facilities in Nigeria, and only 9 percent of them have TB diagnostic services.

“I think the reason why TB isn’t getting the world’s attention is because it doesn’t affect the rich countries in the world. We are very happy because we found somebody that care about his people, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Executive Governor of Lagos State who agreed to be the Africa Champion of Tuberculosis and has expressed readiness to support the control of TB.”

UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins called for more investment in primary healthcare centres across the country even as he commended the Lagos State government on the management of COVID-19 pandemic in the state.

“TB is a communicable disease and we must all act collectively to stop TB. Public and private sector need to invest more in primary healthcare as part of measures to control TB. We need to strength our primary healthcare system to respond to some of these diseases.

“Some of the changes we have is wrong diagnoses and testing. We want a situation whereby people can go to PHC and get tested for TB, HIV, COVID-19 among others.”

Speaking shortly after he was conferred with Honour of TB Champion in Africa, the Executive Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu admonished stakeholders to lead fight against total eradication of TB.

“Lagos state would be converting its COVID-19 facilities into tuberculosis facilities and to prepare for the next pandemic, the state is planning to build an Infectious Disease Research Institute. We have also increased our budget for health generally because of our experience during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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