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World TB Day: Shortfall of test machine hampering fight against scourge – experts

By Lanre Oloyede/Palma Ileye

As Nigeria prepares to join the rest of the world to mark this year’s World Tuberculosis (TB) Day, experts in the fight against the disease have expressed dissatisfaction with the inadequacy of the GeneXpert test machine required for accurate and effective detection and diagnosis of TB in the country.

The GeneXpert test machine is the latest technology designed and recommended by the World Health Organization, WHO, for accurate and timely Tuberculosis test.

According to the experts, early detection and accurate diagnosis is essential to winning the battle against the disease which is regarded as the world’s deadliest infectious killer.

Report has it that Tuberculosis kills nearly 3,975 people daily while Nigeria is ranked sixth among the 30 high TB burden countries and first in Africa with 18 Nigerians dying every hour due to TB.

The experts gave this indication Tuesday at a Pre-World TB Day 2020 media conference organized to intimate stakeholders and members of the public with the activities planned to mark this year’s World TB Day 2020 which will come up on the 24th of March 2020.

National Coordinator, National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP) Dr. Adebola Lawanson, who gave an overview of the TB situation in Nigeria, said out of the 398 pieces of the test machine available in the country, only two were procured by the government while the rest were procured by donor agencies and international partners.

Dr. Lawanson stressed that this was inadequate if Nigeria was to effectively combat the scourge of Tuberculosis, adding that the country require to have at least one of the test machine in each of the 774 local government areas, which means there is still a shortfall of 376 pieces of the test equipment required to start with.

Other experts who spoke at the conference also complained of inadequate funding by the federal government to fight the scourge, saying of the 278 million dollars needed for TB control in Nigeria in the year 2019, only 40 percent was available to all the implementers of TB control activities (8% domestic and 32% donor funds, leaving a 60 percent funding gap.

In his remark, Chairman House Committee on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Hon. Sarki Dahiru, promised the cooperation and support of the national assembly to TB control in the country, saying the house will work with relevant agencies of government to ensure easy passage of budget for TB control as well as ensure 90 percent fund release by the budget office.

Hon. Dahiru added that he will encourage each of the 360 members of the Federal House of Representatives to procure at least one GeneXpert test machine for their constituencies in order to bridge the shortfall currently being experienced in the availability of the test machine.

The World Tuberculosis (TB) Day is marked every march 24 to raise public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic impact of TB and urge acceleration of efforts to end the global TB epidemic.

The theme for this year’s celebration is: “It’s Time To End Tb In Nigeria, with the slogan, “ Check that cough, time no dey!”



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