The World Health Organisation (WHO) says more Nigerians know about COVID-19 than Tuberculosis (TB) in spite of the fact that TB has been in the country for about 129 years.
Dr Amos Omoniyi, WHO’s National Professional Officer (NPO) TB/HIV, Nigeria Country Office, said this on Wednesday in Abuja, at the Day 2 of the 2021 National TB Conference.
The conference was organised by Stop TB and the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP) of the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) in collaboration with other partners.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that a 2021 publication from the WHO reveals that for the first time in over a decade TB deaths had increased.
The publication said it was due to reduced access to TB diagnosis and treatment in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Omoniyi added that there was need for all to invest more in TB awareness in the country.
He said that disseminating tuberculosis awareness messages to hard-to-reach communities in the country in different local languages would be effective in the control of TB.
Omoniyi added that Political will was extremely important in the fight against Tuberculosis in the country.
“We need to continue to strengthen policies and programmes that can promote the eradication of Tuberculosis in the country,” he added.
According to Mrs Elsie Ilori, Director of Disease Surveillance Department, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), COVID-19 response has challenged the health system in many ways in the country.
Ilori added that there was a need to document lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic to help strengthen the capacity and resilience of the country’s health system to respond to future epidemics and pandemics.
According to her, as an agency with the mandate to detect, control, and respond to infectious disease outbreaks in Nigeria, the NCDC will continue to partner Stop TB Nigeria to ensure the elimination of TB.
Prof. Abba Abdullahi of College of Medical Sciences, Kaduna State University, stressed the need for the country to focus on research and innovation toward getting vaccines, new drugs, rapid diagnostic tests and treatment for TB in the country.
Dr Mustapha Gidado, the Executive Director of KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation, said that TB could be eliminated in the country and globally notwithstanding all challenges.
Gidado noted that government, partners, and the media should remain determined to fight the elimination of TB in the country.
“We all have critical roles to play,” he added.
NAN reports that the National TB Conference hopes to create an opportunity to learn lessons from experiences within and from other countries.
It intends to come up with strategies to address TB control during the current and future pandemics in the country.(NAN)