COVID-19 eroded gains made in Tuberculosis control – Nigerian Govt

The COVID-19 pandemic eroded some of the gains made in Tuberculosis control as available domestic resources were channelled to addressing the pandemic.

Nigerian must now device new methods of mobilizing domestic resources needed to end the TB epidemic, find missing cases and provide high-quality care and treatment for patients.

This is the submission of the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire at the virtual 33rd STOP TB Partnership board meeting attended by stakeholders on Tuberculosis control as well as 11 Ministers of Health and dignitaries from African and beyond.

The meeting according to the minister is to review the urgent need for increased financial investments to accelerate effective TB responses beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2018, the United Nations High-Level Meeting consisting of stakeholders in the health sector in Africa set a target to put Tuberculosis under control by 2022 but two years after, Ehanire says Africa accounted for 25% of people who developed TB in 2019 with Nigeria recording the highest burden.

‘‘The African region is faced with a high number of drug-resistant TB cases. In 2019, about 83% of TB deaths among HIV-negative people occurred in the WHO African and South-East Asia regions; these regions accounted for 85% of the combined total TB deaths in HIV-negative and HIV-positive people.’’ Ehanire said.

The minister called for a scale-up of access to TB preventive therapy (TPT) and funding of innovations and researches for ending TB epidemic in Africa.

‘‘We have two years more in attaining the UNHLM target set by all of us in 2018. However, a lot still needs to be done to change the present narrative for the continent to achieve the set target by 2022.

Ehanire said in 2019, Nigeria recorded 13% increase in TB notification while 74% of the target for PLHIV placed on TB Preventive Therapy was also achieved.

He, however, confirmed that the advent of COVID-19 pandemic affected efforts put in place to address the disease.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Executive Director, Stop TB Partnership Secretariat in Geneva, Suvanand Sahu lamented that many countries were not on track to meet the United Nations High-Level Meeting, target of 2018 and 2022.

She revealed that the Tuberculosis control community is currently working on how to fast track the development of TB vaccine, noting that the search has led to14 candidate vaccines which were under different stages of trials.

“Just like any other diseases TB vaccine trial are very lengthy trials going up to 15years.” he said.

‘‘Researchers recently presented to the Stop TB board some ideas on, how to shorten vaccine research and development time for Tb, learning from the experience of COVID.”

“One other thing that we have learnt is financing, we have seen how countries financed for COVID19 vaccine even purchased COVID vaccine with some advance purchase mechanism, even before the research was completed.”

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