By Danmaryam Zayamu
The inadequate or near zero funding of Tuberculosis (TB) by states and local governments across the country is crippling the efforts of the federal government and Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to end the disease in Nigeria.
In 2019, Nigeria detected over 100,000 cases of TB out of the estimated 480,000 people. A gap in case detection is still enormous, over 70 per cent.
In an exclusive interview with ExpressDay, in Abuja, the Country Representative Officer, KNCV Nigeria, Dr. Bethrand Odume, disclosed that the funding gap across the states ranges from 76-100 per cent.
“Across most of the states, the funding gap ranges from 76-100 per cent. There are some states that what the government brings on board for the control of TB is actually zero.
“We think if the states and local governments can bring more money it will go a long way.
“Everything about TB, the international agencies through the USAID have provided the drugs free, the reagents are free but you need to support the health system. It is not only the drugs and reagents that will do it, there must be structures.
“These are some of the issues the states and local governments need to do more,” he said.
Dr. Odume, however, noted that to end TB in Nigeria needs a multi sectoral approach.
This, according to him, include “the community, the government, some of us working in the NGOs, all of us must be on board because the gap is enormous.
“We can talk about funding, the level of government commitment is not what actually is expected.
“When we talk about funding, people think it is only the federal government. We have three tiers of government, the federal is doing its best. But what is happening at the states and local governments and the at the community. The issues are actually enormous.”
Responding to a question on the progress so far made in the fight against TB in Nigeria, the expert said: “I will tell you; one, we are making progress but we need to do more. Take for instance, one case of TB that is not treated in a space of one year can infect 15 to 20 people.
“Last year, Nigeria detected over 100,000 cases of TB. Out of estimated 480,000 people. A gap in case detection is still enormous, over 70 per cent. If you look at that, you will say we are not making progress.
“But for us to have detected over 100,000 cases and put them under treatment, we have actually helped to limit the transmission if those 100,000 were not treated. But we need to do more because a prevalence survey was done in 2012 that showed us that the gap is very enormous.”
The KNCV Country Representative, however, lamented that the knowledge gap on TB is very wide. “If you go to the communities, a lot of people don’t even know that treatment of TB is free.
“The health system is not strong, sometimes you get to the health facility, you may not even see who will offer you the care. When go to the DOTs Centres where people have been trained, but due to the issues around support, salaries, there could be strike and when they move to the private sector, it is profit driven even the drugs that are free are charged in the private sector and we know the level of poverty in this country,” he noted.