By Ismaila Chafe/Prudence Arobani
Abuja – President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday in New York restated Federal Government’s commitment toward eradicating tuberculosis in the country.
The President gave the assurance when he addressed High Level meeting on the theme “United Against Tuberculosis: Global Action Against Global Threat” on the sidelines of the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA).
Mr Femi Adesina, the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday, noted that the President expressed delight that UNGA was taking place when the pain of the disease and its dire consequences on health and socio-economic development of many developing countries was on the rise.
While welcoming the adoption of what he termed “the all-important Political Declaration on: “United to End Tuberculosis: An Urgent Global Response to a Global Epidemic”, Buhari said that this was the first global forum with dedicated focus on worldwide tuberculosis pandemic.
He acknowledged that TB had become a global challenge that required consistent and an all-inclusive global strategy based on research and discovery of new drugs.
According to the Nigerian President, such efforts must also include mobilisation of funds and global partnership of relevant stakeholders working together to frontally address the scourge.
He noted that the task before world leaders “is to initiate global response toward eradicating the disease, especially in developing countries where counter-measures are sometimes beyond the capacity of such nations.’’
He emphasised the need to develop new strategies that would connect national responses with international finance and technical partnership to stop the ravaging disease.
He said: “Nigeria welcomes the adoption of this Political Declaration, especially its relevant provisions which commit to provide diagnosis and treatment to 40 million people, including 3.5 million children between 2018 and 2022.
“The Declaration should also serve as template for preventing TB for those most-at-risk, through rapid scale up of access to testing the infection, especially for the high-burdened countries.’’
The President expressed confidence that other commitments made in the document, including those on development of new vaccines, drugs and community-based health services, would further guarantee success in collective fight against the disease.
Nigeria’s national TB eradication strategy, he noted, had long been structured to provide tailored quality services in terms of diagnosis, treatment and prevention.
He added that “since assuming office in May 2015, we consistently increased budget appropriation for the health sector.’’
He further stressed that the budgetary hike was with “a view to ensuring that we promote the well-being of our people through access to quality health care services.
“We are investing in research and development in various public and specialised institutions.’’
The President revealed that the National Action Plan on TB Eradication 2015-2020, which was being pursued with renewed vigour, was structured on five priorities.
These are: “Detection of TB in adults and children; improving treatment in specific geographic areas that are under-performing; integrating TB and HIV services; building capacity for diagnosing and treating drug resistant TB; and creating strong and sustainable systems to support these achievements.’’
He disclosed that private sector engagement for TB was also being pursued as a robust Public-Private Mix (PPM).
Buhari said that the national strategic plan was geared toward meeting the overall aims of providing Nigerians with universal access to “high quality, patient-centred prevention, as well as diagnosis and treatment services for Tuberculosis, TB/HIV and drug-resistance TB by 2020.’’
According to him, the Federal Government is exploring the possibility of establishing a financial institution dedicated to providing financial lifelines for free, comprehensive and quality medical treatments.
He said this was aimed at mitigating the “financial burden on victims and to also ensure that we continue to save lives and create favourable conditions for economic and social development.’’
Buhari pledged Nigeria’s resolve to address “institutional and societal challenges through the enhancement of strong multi-sectoral mechanisms.’’
He also called on the global community to demonstrate renewed commitment to the Political Declaration on the eradication of TB.