Executive Director of the KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation, Dr. Bernard Odume, has said tuberculosis has remained the world’s deadliest infectious disease and a significant global health challenge that needs to be tackled with utmost urgency and responsibility.

He noted that funding for TB has remained a key challenge to support activities towards TB treatment.

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Odume stressed the need to work with the media to educate the public on the impact of the deadly disease and current efforts by government and other partners in addressing tackling the disease in Nigeria.

Briefing journalists ahead of the World TB Day celebration, yesterday, in Abuja, Odume advocated urgent investment of resources, support and care to ensure universal access to TB care for research.

He said: “This is especially critical in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing conflict and socioeconomic crisis that has put End TB progress at risk, and to ensure equitable access to prevention and care in line with WHO’s drive towards achieving Universal Health Coverage.

He said there has been a sharp decrease in TB prevalence over the years, with advancement in diagnosis, treatment, and prevention and stressed the need to further expand access to TB diagnosis.

Odume stated that the organisation will continue to reach out to government and private sector to galvanise efforts at increasing domestic resources for the control of TB in Nigeria.

“This, we can achieve through government, communities and stakeholders’ buy-in. We need more education on TB, more importantly, the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. Working with the media, the programme can make progress in educating the public on the impact of this deadly disease and current efforts by governments, the key funders of TB programme in Nigeria, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Global Fund (GF) and other partners in addressing the scourge of the disease in Nigeria,” he said.

National Coordinator, National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP), Dr. Chukwuma Anyaike, said Nigeria has the highest burden of TB in Africa and still the sixth globally.

He explained that tuberculosis is not caused by any witchcraft but an infectious disease caused by a bacterium called mycobacterium tuberculosis and cannot be contracted by shaking of hands and by hugging.

“The bacterium is suspended in the air and you can breathe it in. Whatever happens afterwards depends on your body immune system,” he explained.

On her part, Acting Board Chairman, Stop TB Partnership Nigeria, Dr. Queen Ogbuji-Ladipo, said Nigeria has made very significant progress in the last few years to increase TB case notification, but still have some gaps.

She said: “At the end of 2022, the programme was able to achieve 60 per cent performance of its estimates for TB case notification that shows that the country is making good progress, but we still have a large gap so close, so as Stop TB Partnership, we call on all to continue to consolidate our efforts until we achieve Nigeria free of TB.”

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