Nigeria’s Minister for Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, handed over four Toyota Hilux pickup trucks donated by the Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH) to state governments on June 30, 2016, in Abuja.
The brand new pickup trucks procured from the Global Fund grant and donated through the National Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Buruli-Ulcer Control Programme (NTBLCP) is to be used by state Tuberculosis control officers in Anambra, Benue, Niger and Abuja FCT office, for oversight functions, effective data collection and supportive supervision of the TB programme.
During the hand over ceremony at the Federal Ministry of Health Headquarters in Abuja, the Honourable Minister said the kind gesture of Global Fund through ARFH would increase Tuberculosis detection and treatment in Nigeria, as the detection and pick up rate is currently below 20%.
He pleaded with development and health workers to show more diligence and interest to find TB patients anywhere they are in Nigeria and put them on treatment, as treatment is free, so that the situation will improve in Nigeria.
Professor Adewole said: “We need to improve pick up rate, we need to engage them on drugs, we need to monitor properly. I am also worried about the incidence of Multiple Drug Resistance (MDR) TB as some statistics suggest we might be dealing with a heavier burden of MDR than we suspect, having picked 300 new cases of MDR in one month while only 500 cases was anticipated and budgeted for in one year”.
Speaking to the Commissioners of Health, Professor Adewole said: “We rely on you people; whatever you need to make your job easier, let us know. If there is need to talk to your governor, we will talk to them so that you get more support”.
The minister also stated that: “the NGOs have done some credible work, trying to reach where we cannot reach; they are known for efficiency and effectiveness, and so, partnership with them is the right way to go”.
The President/CEO of ARFH, Professor Oladapo Ladipo, in his remarks, stated that the hand over of the project vehicles to state Commissioners of Health presents an opportunity for strong advocacy to the state governors on the need for their counterpart contributions towards the TB programme. He also stated that the federal ministry of health should involve all stakeholders, especially the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in formulating policies, as NGOS have a major role to play in advocacy, citing that government’s approval of the National Health Act during the last administration was due to the pressure from NGOs, leading to the approval of a policy that had been in the pipeline for about ten years.
Professor Ladipo said that “NGOs play a pivotal role in programming and capacity development of various health personnel, in addition to what government is doing in their respective institutions. I think the time is right for the government of Nigeria to recognize the importance of NGOs, especially as we signed on to the sustainable development agenda”.
The Niger State Honourable Commissioner for Health, Dr Mustapha Mohammed Jibril, expressed gratitude for the very important logistic support for the work they are doing in trying to control Tuberculosis in Niger State. He said “we are happy that they’ve included Niger State among the states to give these vehicles which is meant to improve the work that we are doing, in terms of surveillance, monitoring and evaluation, and ensuring data collection by the TB control officer. I want to assure ARFH that this vehicle will be put to good use and I’m sure it will go a long way to improve the work we are doing in trying to control TB”.
ARFH has donated 20 project vehicles to state governments to support the fight against tuberculosis since it became a Principal Recipient on the Global Fund grant in 2009.