NIMR plans to reduce TB deaths by 95% before 2035

Prof. Innocent Ujah,

Prof. Innocent Ujah,

Nigeria Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), has unveiled plans to reducing tuberculosis (TB), deaths by 95 per cent and TB incidence rate in the country by 90 per cent by year 2035.

Speaking at symposium to commemorate the 2016 World Tuberculosis Day (WTD) in Yaba, Lagos, Director General of NIMR, Prof. Innocent Ujah, said that tuberculosis disease is curable and treatable.

Ujah stated that TB is airborne disease that can spread from person to person regardless of creed, gender, race or social orientation translating to the frequent quote that “TB anywhere is TB every where”.

He disclosed that tuberculosis disease is most common among the under-privileged, and poor people are vulnerable to tuberculosis diseases adding that it is usually referred to as a disease of poverty.

Ujah said: “NIMR is collaborating with the National TB and Leprosy Control Programme, the state governments, communities and partners to find, treatment and cure for TB. Our efforts are focused on reducing TB, including multi-drug resistant on TB, especially among the most vulnerable such as people living with HIV and children through our TB diagnostic services offered by our National TB reference laboratory. Including treatment and follow-up at our clinics, as well as capacity building, mentoring and supervisory oversight to the zonal TB reference laboratories.

“NIMR is also at the forefront of TB research under the HIV/TB Research Group on drug resistance surveillance, evaluation of new TB diagnosis tools and molecular studies on TB. Some of the research activities are in collaboration with other institutions and partners within and outside of the country.”

Former National Coordinator TB/Leprosy programme at the Federal Ministry of Health Abuja, and Chairman of the occasion Dr. Oluyemi Sofola, said that TB treatment is of public good and has more profound public health benefits of reducing the transmission of the disease and preventing the development of drug resistance strains.

Sofola said: “TB has remained a major public health problem of global concern for many decades. TB causes ill health among millions of people each year. TB is known to occur in all regions of the world though the burden, include HIV co-infection and drug resistance vary across regions. Africa carries the most severe burden while Nigeria remains one of the 22 countries with highest burden worldwide.

“However, the progress in global TB control strategies, with 43 million lives saved over past 15 years, gives us hope that the fight against the disease can be won.

“Furthermore, the Millennium Development Goal (MDG), target of halting and reversing the TB epidemic by the year 2015, was met globally.”

Sofola added: “In Nigeria, there has been remarkable progress in TB control but there are still some gaps particularly the high TB prevalence compared to cases notified which indicates low cases detection, suggesting that coverage of vulnerable populations remains low. Hence, the need to find the nearly three million missing cases are important.

“It is noted that way forward to end TB by 2035 has been clearly articulated by stop TB programme and endorsed by the World Health Assembly in 2014. The post 2015 global development agenda and Sustainable Development Goals informed the need for a renewed strategy for ending the TB epidemic by 2030 and World Health Organisation (WHO), has set target to be achieved by 2035.”

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