Wife of the President, Hajia Aisha Buhari, has expressed her deep concern at at the high mortality rates from tuberculosis (TB) and has appealed for global support to end the epidemic in Nigeria.
She stated that the COVID-19 pandemic had really diverted attention and resources. She, however, reminded the world that TB remains the single highest killer disease, going by available statistics.
Mrs. Buhari feared that worldwide infections and deaths in 2021 would increase to levels last witnessed between 2013 and 2016, implying a setback of at least five to eight years in the fight against the sickness owing to outbreak of the novel coronavirus, according to a study by Stop TB Partnership.
Aisha who addressed a virtual Stop TB Partnership board meeting and roundtable with African ministers of health, told the stakeholders that total commitment is needed to remedy the situation, noting: “What is required is more political commitment, effective partnerships and increased resources at the national, regional and global levels.”
“We should also explore new frontiers of collaboration, including leveraging opportunities with COVID-19 programmes and services. The similarities between the two diseases make this very imperative. We cannot give up in our fight to end TB in our lifetime. That is why my message to the board at this time is for us to renew our hope and restrategise.
“As the Global TB Champion and Ambassador, I am very committed to support activities at the global, regional and national levels towards re-galvanising our efforts to end TB. I want to commend Stop TB Partnership and all the partners, especially the donors, for your efforts and support to end TB all over the world. I also still want to solicit more of your support for Nigeria. As you know, we cannot end TB in the world if we cannot end it in Nigeria. And ending TB in a country as big as Nigeria is a huge task, that is why we need increased multi-sectoral and multi-lateral support,” she said.
Hajia Buhari added that help was most needed, “to strengthen the capacity of the wives of governors who have been appointed as TB Champions to be effective in their roles, and to also support structures at the state level to support them, including State Stop TB Partnerships and State Parliamentary TB Caucuses.”
Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who also spoke at the event confirmed that Africa accounted for 25 per cent of TB patients in 2019, with Nigeria constituting the most burden in the region.