The U.S.A-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), an NGO, on Thursday called on governments and world leaders to prioritise the prevention and treatment of Tuberculosis to mitigate avoidable deaths in Nigeria.
AHF’s Programme Director in Nigeria, Dr Echey Ijezie, made the call in a statement it issued in Abuja to herald the 2023 World Tuberculosis Day.
The World Tuberculosis Day is commemorated annually on March 24 to elicit support for tuberculosis sufferers.
It is also commemorated to encourage world leaders to focus on ending the disease that is 100 per cent preventable and treatable.
The theme for the 2023 Tuberculosis Day is: “Yes! We Can End Tuberculosis.’’
In commemorating the Day, AHF called on heads of states to attend the United Nations High-Level meeting on Tuberculosis in September to show their commitment to ending tuberculosis in their countries.
Tuberculosis is a serious infection of the lungs caused by a bacterium that spreads through tiny droplets, released in the air when a sufferer coughs or sneezes.
“Ending tuberculosis in Nigeria must come with intensified level of case finding and patients who show up in hospitals to embrace treatment, which is free across health facilities in the country.
“Importantly, we must increase funding available to tuberculosis, improve the level of education and awareness as well as engage the rising incidence of stigma related to the disease,’’ Ijezie said in the statement.
Ijezie decried the listing of Nigeria by the WHO as one of the 10 countries accounting for 64 per cent of the global gap in tuberculosis case finding.
He stressed that Nigeria’s situation required urgent attention as the WHO also listed it alongside India and Indonesia as accounting for almost half of the total gap in case finding.
In the statement also, AHF’s Chief Global Advocacy and Policy, Mr Terri Ford, said the foundation was focusing on tuberculosis by educating its staff members and clients and by providing tuberculosis screening in its clinics.
“The Foundation is also prioritising prevention and treatment of HIV and tuberculosis co-infection, which is one of the main causes of death of people living with HIV.
“AHF urges all government and public health institutions to do their part to ensure tuberculosis research, prevention, and treatment programmes are fully funded and supported.
“We all must do more to finally stop tuberculosis worldwide, particularly in lower-income countries,’’ Ford said.
The AHF stated that tuberculosis claimed 1.6 million lives in 2021, the year when more than 10 million new infections were recorded, yet it remained woefully neglected and underfunded in many countries.
“Even as tuberculosis is a global epidemic, more than 95 per cent of deaths occur in lower-income countries.
“WHO estimated that finances were less than 40 per cent of what was needed to prevent and treat tuberculosis in 2022.
“The time is now for heads of state to urgently focus efforts on tuberculosis prevention and mitigate millions of avoidable deaths,’’ it stressed.
AHF is a global non-profit organisation providing cutting-edge medicine and advocacy for more than 1.7 million people in 45 countries, including Nigeria. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Source: News Agency of Nigeria