Let me start by welcoming everyone to this High Level meeting, especially the adoption of the all-important Political Declaration on: “United to End Tuberculosis: An Urgent Global Response to a Global Epidemic”. This is the very first global forum with dedicated focus on worldwide tuberculosis pandemic. Nigeria is delighted that this landmark event is taking place at a period when the pain of the disease, and its dire consequences on the health and socio-economic development of many developing countries is on the rise.
2. TB has become a global challenge that requires consistent and an all-inclusive global strategy based on research and discovery of new drugs. Such efforts must also include mobilization of funds and global partnership of relevant stakeholders working together to frontally address the scourge.
3. The task before us therefore is to initiate a global response towards eradicating the disease especially in developing countries, where counter-measures are sometimes beyond the capacity of such nations. In addition, there is the need to develop new strategies that connect national responses with international finance and technical partnership to stop the ravaging disease.
4. 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 a 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. I am confident that other commitments made under this important document, including those on development of new vaccines, drugs and community-based health services, will further guarantee success in our collective fight against the disease.
5. Our national TB eradication strategy has long been structured to provide tailored quality services in terms of diagnosis, treatment and prevention. Since assuming office in May 2015, we consistently increased budget appropriation for the health sector. This is with a view to ensuring that we promote the well-being of our people through access to qualitative health care services. In this regard, we are investing in research and development in our various public and specialized institutions.
6. Our national Action Plan on TB Eradication 2015-2020 is being pursued with renewed vigour, structured on five (5) overarching priorities. These are:
a. Detection of TB in adults and children,
b. Improving treatment in specific geographic areas that are under-performing,
c. Integrating TB and HIV services,
d. Building capacity for diagnosing and treating drug resistant TB; and
e. Creating strong and sustainable systems to support these achievements. Private sector engagement for TB is being stridently pursued as a robust Public-Private Mix (PPM).
7. In this connection, our strategic plan is geared towards meeting the overall aims of providing Nigerians with universal access to high quality, patient-centered prevention, as well as diagnosis and treatment services for Tuberculosis, TB/HIV and drug-resistance TB by 2020.
8. Furthermore, we are exploring the possibility of establishing a financial institution dedicated to providing financial lifelines for free, comprehensive and qualitative medical treatments. The aim is to mitigate financial burden on victims and to also ensure that we continue to save lives and create favourable conditions for economic and social development.
9. Finally, let me pledge Nigeria’s continued commitment to the eradication of TB in Nigeria. We remain resolute in efforts to address institutional and societal challenges, through the enhancement of strong multi-sectoral mechanisms. Let me therefore seize this opportunity to call on the global community to demonstrate renewed commitment to today’s declaration.
I thank you.