The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, on Tuesday in Abuja, said the Federal Government would provide 1111 gene expert machines, a new diagnosis tool in some selected primary healthcare centres to enhance treatment of tuberculosis (TB).
The minister made this known at the National Conference on Tuberculosis organised by Stop TB Partnership Nigeria in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health with the theme “Hidden Face of Tuberculosis: Challenges in Identification and Management Among Vulnerable Groups in Nigeria”.
According to him, government has identified 287 centres and health teams across the country are trying to map out the 111 out of the 287 identified Primary Healthcare Centres.
He said “the pilot centres can serve as proof of what we plan to do in the next two years”.
He added that the ministry was working with World Health Organisation (WHO), UNICEF and World Bank to train human resource needs for the Primary Healthcare Centres.
“We are looking at the concept where we have at least 19 workers with six major healthcare workers in a primary health centre so that we can interface with communities. We need to go to people’s homes and pick out TB from there, if we can improve the diagnosis, we will also improve the treatment and make sure that we wipe out TB. What we need is support and we believe that we can get It,” he said.
Adewole said he was delighted that the wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, was recently conferred with the award of TB Ambassador, noting that he would continue to appeal for her support “because we need her support in terms of mobilising resources to end TB in Nigeria”.
He expressed government’s displeasure over the country’s placement as number four in terms of the incidence and global burden.
The minister, however, expressed optimism that with the country’s timeline and commitment, “we will change the trajectory”.
Adewole said Nigeria was poised to wipe out TB just as it did in the case of guinea worm and Ebola.”
Mike Harvey, the Mission Director, USAID Nigeria, said the Agency was worried that 68 per cent of the National TB Programmes were under-funded.
He added that the 2015-2030 USAID Strategic Plan on TB has Nigeria as its major priority area.
Harvey reiterated the commitment of the U.S. government to support Nigeria and raise awareness on the disease.
Meanwhile, Dr. Gidado Mustapha, the Country Director, Challenge TB/KNCV an NGO, said the TB testing machine which was highly sensitive was faster than the microscope, adding that a total of 215 of such machines were current in the country.
Mustapha said the machines had assisted in testing over 30,000 patients.
“It has help to improve TB case finding among people living with HIV/AIDS by 17 per cent,” he said.