As part of efforts to draw global attention to the health problem, March 24th is celebrated every year as the World Tuberculosis Day and the day is designed to build public awareness about tuberculosis and efforts to eliminate the disease. Association for Reproductive and Family Health collaborated with the Federal Ministry of Health and other partners to commemorate 2015 World Tuberculosis Day. The day was marked on the 24th of March 2015 with a Public Lecture and a Ministerial Press briefing at Rockview Hotel, Abuja under the theme, ‘Nigeria Unite Against Tuberculosis; Support. Reach. Treat And Cure Everyone’.
The Hon. Minister of Health, Dr. Khaliru Alhassan who chaired event that brought together stakeholders, media, and students from several secondary schools noted that tuberculosis remains an epidemic in most parts of the world, causing the deaths of nearly one-and-a- half million people each year, mostly in developing countries. Nigeria ranks 11th among the 22 high burden countries that account for 80% of the Global TB burden according to the World Health Organisation (WHO ) 2013 Global TB Report. The Hon. Minster further noted that the World Health Organisation (WHO) in it 2013 Global TB Report estimated that a total of 180,000 TB cases occur annually in the country. However, the recently concluded National TB prevalence survey has revealed that the actual burden of TB in the country is about three times higher than the current WHO estimates and 5 times more than what is being notified by the programme.
Delivering a Goodwill message at the event, Prof. O. A Ladipo who was represented by Dr. Queen Ogbuji, Global Fund TB Project Coordinator stated that the combination of HIV and TB has adverse outcome on the patient as TB is the leading cause of death among people living with HIV. He further stated that the socio economic impact of this disease cannot also be ignored as epidemiological data reveals that the 15 – 35 age group which is the most productive part of the population are the most vulnerable to Tuberculosis. Prof. Ladipo reaffirmed ARFH’s commitment to working the NTBLCP and other stakeholders to improve TB control in Nigeria. He said ‘’As the Principal recipient of the Global Fund TB grant on DOTS Expansion, ARFH is pleased to continue to associate with the NTBLCP in the efforts to reduce the burden of Tuberculosis in Nigeria through early diagnosis and referral for treatment, In order to achieve this, ARFH will continue to ensure uninterrupted supply of free anti-TB drugs and laboratory reagents for improved case detection and treatment outcomes’’.
Earlier, ARFH joined NTBLCP to pay an Advocacy visit to the Esu of Bwari, HRH, Mr. Ibrahim Yaro in his Palace in Bwari Area council of FCT and a Twitter Chat with the hashtag #WorldTBDayNg (via storify). ARFH was among the partners, including WHO, IHVN, Agbami Co-Venturers, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, USAID, National Agency for the Control of AIDS, and others who made suggestions on how Community are Key in finding the missing cases and improving TB detection, prevention, treatment and in the country.