Posted Wed, Apr 20, 2022 6:43 AM
The Health Policy Commission (HPC) of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), on Thursday, 7th of April, 2022, held an event with the theme “2022 World Tuberculosis Day Private Sector Collaboration.”
In his welcome remarks, the vice-chairman of the NESG, Mr Niyi Yusuf, said that data from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that Nigeria has the highest Tuberculosis (TB) burden in Africa. Even though TB is curable and preventable, over 120,000 Nigerians died of Tuberculosis in 2019 (accounting for around 8.5% of global deaths). He noted that there is still a significant gap in the number of those diagnosed versus those enrolled in treatment, with Nigeria having the lowest case detections in the world, with only one in four people being diagnosed, which indicates that much more needs to be done to increase early detection, treatment and provision of additional funding to achieve the End TB goals.
Furthermore, Mr Yusuf also stated that the private sector in Nigeria has a track record of supporting disease control/eradication efforts, such as in the fight against polio and malaria, where the private-sector coalition contributed to achieving significant health gains, noting that is why engaging the private sector to accelerate TB control in the country, which ranks sixth globally in terms of its TB Burden, is key to the promotion of a healthy workforce and safe workspaces.
His Excellency, the executive governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwoolu, in his remarks, said that TB is indeed an airborne infection spread from person to person, and Nigeria contributes significantly to the global TB burden, placing 1st in Africa and 6th in the world and that it was important for all stakeholders to work together to towards improving productivity as an enabler to successful economic reform and provide funding and support to end TB in Nigeria.
In his presentation, the Honourable Commissioner for Health, Lagos state, Professor Akin Abayomi, revealed that Nigeria has over 300,00 undetected cases in Nigeria and Lagos remains the epicentre of TB burden in Nigeria. He noted that 65,000 cases need to be identified annually, but only 31,000 cases were detected in 2021, indicating a considerable deficit. “Lagos has a slight funding gap for TB, considering that 6 percent of identified cases demonstrate multi-drug resistance and require a more complicated drug regimen. In addition, up to 32 percent of patients have developed drug-resistant TB, requiring a more expensive regimen with high toxicity for the patient,” he stated. More so, Professor Abayomi noted the need for enhanced public awareness, for people to know the signs of the disease and where to get help to aid recovery.
Speaking during the panel session, the Facilitator of the NESG Health Policy Commission, Dr Chuku Nata, said that political will is essential, especially considering that the local component of financing for TB eradication is 10%, which is far less than is needed to guarantee sustainability. He reiterated the need for deliberate investment for TB that highlights the impact on the workplace and productivity for the private sector to know the benefits of being involved in stopping TB.
Dr Idi Hong, Director of Government Relations, BUA, stated that BUA continues to provide support in health and social development with a commitment of US$100 million. The discussion around TB must be scaled up, taking the number of people who die from the disease into cognisance.
Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director, Stop TB Geneva, said that Lagos is akin to a country as it compares favourably with other member states in the African region. “Nigeria has a big burden of TB, but it is rare to have lots of private sectors and donor partner collaboration to discuss TB. Lagos has a good plan in place, and it is important to secure the financing for putting the plan in place. A sick person can infect 15 to 20 people in a year, and TB kills more people than COVID-19. 50% of people infected who don’t get treatment can die. The private sector can help financially and screen and test their employees for TB while helping to ensure judicious use of resources,” Dr Ditiu noted.
The National Coordinator, National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTLCP), Dr Chukwuma Anyaike, stated that the private sector contributed significantly to identifying TB cases. However, despite this, about 300,000 cases are still being missed. “Increased funding is key to ending the TB epidemic in Nigeria. Every hour, 80 Nigerians die from TB, families get poorer, and children drop out of school due to the loss of their benefactor. Strong support and investment from the private sector will accelerate a breakthrough towards ending TB in Nigeria,” he stated.
The co-founder/CEO of Verod Capital, Dr Danladi Verheijen, said his organisation is focused on Economic value and will continue to support and make financial contributions to ending TB in Nigeria while encouraging other companies to do the same.