The Federal Government is to spend N430 million this year on tuberculosis treatment, President Goodluck Jonathan said on Friday in Lagos.
Speaking through the Minister of Health, Dr Onyebuchi Chukwu at the inauguration of a Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB) Treatment Centre in Lagos, President Jonathan said that government had begun the establishment of special centres for the disease.
“The issue of tuberculosis has to be tackled with great zeal and we are hoping to achieve this by the establishment of special centres for the management of MDR-TB,” he said.
The President said that the Federal Government had already established the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programmes supporting free diagnosis and TB treatment in almost 4,000 health facilities across the country.
According to Jonathan, the country’s 93,000 TB cases resulting in 2,000 reported deaths in 2011, place Nigeria among 22 countries with 80 per cent of the estimated global TB burden.
He said that TB remained a major global health problem with more devastating effects in developing countries.
According to him, 98 per cent of deaths due to TB and 95 per cent of the eight million new cases every year are in developing countries, including Nigeria.
Speaking on the occasion, Gov. Babatunde Fashola, represented by the Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, said that Lagos had a high burden of TB as factors promoting its spread were enormous in the state.
He noted that such factors included rapid urbanisation, emergence of slums, inadequate housing leading to overcrowding and rural-urban migration.
He explained that the emergence of multi-drug resistant TB was of concern as most affected persons were unable to afford the necessary treatment necessitating government intervention to support such patients.
He said that the theme of the 2012 World TB Day – ‘Stop TB in my lifetime’- made it imperative for all to work in concert to detect, treat and prevent the disease.
He advised people to cover mouths when sneezing, keep windows open for fresh air and ensure that TB patients did not stop their treatment prematurely to stop the disease.
However, every March 25th, the world commemorates tuberculosis day.