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Domestic resources mobilization is key to improving TB case findings in Nigeria-Expert

Bukola Afeni

Stakeholders in the health sector said there is a need to move away from donor funding to domestic resources mobilization in  TB case findings in Nigeria.
The experts also called for collective effort at both national and state levels to fund TB case management in Nigeria.

The Country Director of Health  Policy Plus, Frances Illika made the disclosure at an online media roundtable, with the theme” Impact of COVID-19  on TB: Challenges and opportunities for service delivery, policy, and financing” in Abuja.
She said domestic resources mobilization is key to reduce TB burden in Nigeria.
“We need to move away from  being dependent on donor funding for TB, to actually improve our budget allocation for TB.”

“We need input at the national, state,  executives, and parliamentarians level in order to make sure that we provide adequate funding for TB, and make sure that these funds are released both at the national and state levels “.

According to her, a multi-sectoral approach is needed, especially from the private sector.
“We need commitment across all levels of people, those who work in and outside the health sector. There is a need for us to remember that we have other deadly diseases that are threatening us and can be further enabled by COVID. We need to put in place measures  to fund and control diseases of public health significance, like HIV, Malaria, and Tuberculosis (TB), there could be a post-COVID-19 health crisis in Nigeria.”

The  National Coordinator, National Tuberculosis,  and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP), Dr. Adebola Lawanson, disclosed that there is a need to put in place policies that will integrate COVID and TB response.
” We want a situation whereby as we are looking for Covid-19 symptoms, we are treating TB cases as well. During the lockdown, there was the possibility for the most simple TB  case to become drug-resistant TB, which ultimately increase the cost of treatment.”
She further explained that during the lockdown,  TB patients find it very difficult to go for testing.
“At the individual level, the health messages that were introduced during the peak of Covid-19 for people to stay at home, when they have symptoms was contrary to the messaging on TB. There was a lot of misconceptions, and misinformation, people do not want to be stigmatized of having COVID -19. It caused an increase in mortality for TB.
Some of the messages reinforced stigma because a lot of people decided to hide their cough so that people don’t mistake them for TB”.
The Acting Board Chair of Stop TB, Dr. Ayodele Awe said there is a need for more reinforcement at both the state and national levels in reducing TB cases in Nigeria.
He added that Nigeria is still missing 300,000 new TB cases every year, and is able to detect only  25 percent of the expected TB cases in the country.

He further advised the state government to liaise with the TB program managers to tackle COVID-19 effectively at the state level.

“The states and local governments need to emulate Kaduna state government, by procuring mobile Gene Xpert machines which have the capacity to test Covid-19 and TB at the same time. We hope to partner more with the media in the remaining days in the year. We will make an impact in a few days to come”.

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