By Royal Ibeh,
Countries affected by HIV, Tuberculosis (TB) and Malaria urgently need $28.5 billion to protect the extraordinary progress achieved in the fight against the three diseases in the past two decades, says a report.
The report, mitigating the Impact of COVID-19 on Countries Affected by HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria, released recently, revealed that deaths from HIV, TB and Malaria could almost double in 12 Months unless urgent action is taken.
Analysing the report at a webinar organised by Stop TB Partnership, Nigeria, stakeholders noted that Nigeria has a huge gap of about 60 per cent of the required funding for TB and that the bulk of the funding was still donor dependent.
While it has been reiterated that the Nigerian government cannot tackle the huge burden posed by TB alone, stakeholders said collective effort at both national and state levels to fund TB case management in Nigeria, would go a long way.
The Country Director of Health Policy Plus, Frances Illika said, “If measures are not taken to address some of the key issues that we have with HIV, TB and Malaria, after COVID-19, there could be even a bigger crisis that will arise from these diseases that are of public health significance.”
To tackle these issues, Illika advocated for private sector investment, adding that a multi-sectoral approach is needed, especially from the private sector, as it will take about $28.5 billion to correct the effect of COVID-19 on HIV, TB and Malaria.
“We need commitment across all levels of people, those who work in and outside the health sector. There is a need for us to remember that we have other deadly diseases that are threatening us and can be further enabled by COVID. We need to put in place measures to fund and control diseases of public health significance, like HIV, Malaria, and TB, otherwise, there could be a post-COVID-19 health crisis in Nigeria,” she added.
Themed: “Impact of COVID-19 on TB: Challenges and Opportunities for Service Delivery, Policy and Financing”, the National Coordinator of the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP), Adebola Lawanson, said the stay at home order adversely affected the fight against TB.
Lawanson said, “At the individual level, the health massaging that were introduced during the peak of COVID-19 for people to stay at home when they have symptoms was a paradox to the messaging on TB.
“This is because for TB, we tell the patients to go to the hospital when they cough for two weeks or more to access free health care. But the stay at home massaging affected those with TB. It has reinforced stigma because a lot of people, some will decide to hide their cough so that people don’t mistake them for COVID-19.
“Also, because of the stay at home during COVID-19 lockdown, there was increase in TB transmission. The lockdown during COVID-19 impacted negatively on TB because there was lack of access to healthcare facilities. People that were infected with TB that time that needed to be in the hospital were not hospitalized and there was the possibility for the most simple TB to become drug resistant TB which ultimately increase the cost of treatment.”
To effectively tackle TB in Nigeria, stakeholders have however advocated for increased funding from government at all levels, while urging the private sector to step-in.