The Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate, has said that the country diagnosed over 300,000 tuberculosis, TB, cases in 2023, marking the first time in its history that such a high number is recorded.
Pate spoke at the 37th STOP TB partnership board meeting in Brasilia, Brazil, on Tuesday.
During the 37th board meeting, a presentation was made by the Stop TB Partnership regarding the TB perspective and their efforts to ensure increased and impactful Global Fund investments in TB.
Nigeria, along with other countries and civil society board members, shared their interventions, detailing their experiences and perspectives with the Global Fund.
“In 2023, Nigeria diagnosed over 300,000 TB cases for the first time in its history, reducing the missing case gap and positioning the country to achieve its 2025 National Strategic Plan targets.
“At the 2023 UN High-level Meeting (UN HLM) on Universal Health Coverage (UHC), Nigeria reached about 70 per cent of its cumulative target and approximately 90 per cent of the 2022 target,” he said.
While acknowledging the progress made, he said that the country remained committed to reaching a 100 per cent treatment coverage rate and increasing TB preventive therapy (TPT) coverage.
He said that the country was also documenting strategic initiatives and best practices to address case-finding challenges in a high-burden country.
“The achievements in Nigeria’s TB control programme would not have been possible without the support of partners such as USAID, GFATM, WHO, Stop TB Partnership, CDC, DoD, and Civil Society Organisations.
“The programme staff, especially the front-line workers, were also recognised for their dedication in providing TB services, even during emergencies and crises,” he said.
The minister said that the significant milestone represented a major step forward in reducing the missing cases gap, and positions the country on track to achieving its 2025 National Strategic Plan targets for TB control.
“The increase in TB diagnoses is a testament to Nigeria’s commitment to tackling the disease head-on and implementing innovative strategies.
“Through a combination of data-driven interventions, evidence-based approaches, and technologically enhanced activities, Nigeria has made remarkable progress in identifying and treating TB cases.
“The achievement is particularly noteworthy considering the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Despite the disruptions caused by the global health crisis, Nigeria’s TB programme demonstrated resilience and adaptability, ensuring that TB services continued to be provided to those in need,” he said.
He said that with continued support from partners and stakeholders, the country was well-positioned to build upon the achievement and make further strides in its fight against TB.
“The country’s dedication to ending the TB epidemic aligns with the global efforts to eliminate this devastating disease, bringing hope for a healthier future for all,” he said.
According to him, as a result of these interventions, Nigeria saw a 15 per cent increase in annual TB case notification from 120,266 cases in 2019 to 138,591 cases in 2020, even during the pandemic when global TB notification dropped by 18 per cent.
He said that in 2021, the country achieved a massive 50 per cent increase in annual TB notifications, reaching 207,785 TB cases in 2022.
Looking ahead, he said that Nigeria’s president initiated the transformation of the health sector through four pillars, including effective governance, improved population health outcomes, unlocking the healthcare value chain, and strengthening health security within Africa and globally.
He underscored the need to make TB an issue of social justice and to balance people’s orientation with the development and delivery of new tools.
Furthermore, he called for investment in the healthcare value chain and the encouragement of local manufacturing of diagnostics, therapeutics, and medical equipment.
“This approach would promote economic evolution and foster genuine partnerships across countries involved in the TB control campaign,” he said.
He said that the country’s commitment to innovation, data-driven interventions, and collaboration with partners had demonstrated the potential to make significant progress in combating TB and improving public health outcomes.
He, however, invited all participants to join Nigeria in disseminating the lessons learned and best practices in addressing TB case-finding challenges at a public event scheduled for July 2024.
TB is an infectious disease caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
It primarily affects the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body.
TB spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, and it can be life-threatening if not treated properly.
Symptoms include persistent cough, fever, weight loss, and night sweats.
Treatment typically involves a combination of antibiotics taken over several months.