Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, New York
President Muhammadu Buhari, on Wednesday, urged global leaders to intensify support to eradicate tuberculosis in countries battling the disease.
This was even as he as restated Nigeria’s commitment towards the eradication of tuberculosis in the near future.
President Buhari made the call while addressing a High Level meeting on the theme, ‘United Against Tuberculosis: Global Action Against Global Threat’, on the sidelines of the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, in New York.
The president also expressed delight that the landmark event was taking place “at a period when the pain of the disease, and its dire consequences on the health and socio-economic development of many developing countries, is on the rise.”
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Welcoming the adoption of what he termed “the all-important Political Declaration on: United to End Tuberculosis: An Urgent Global Response to a Global Epidemic,” President Buhari said that this was the first global forum with dedicated focus on worldwide tuberculosis pandemic.
Acknowledging that “TB has become a global challenge that requires consistent and an all-inclusive global strategy based on research and discovery of new drugs.”
The Nigerian President stressed that “such efforts must also include mobilisation of funds and global partnership of relevant stakeholders working together to frontally address the scourge.”
He noted that the task before world leaders “is to initiate a global response towards eradicating the disease especially in developing countries, where counter-measures are sometimes beyond the capacity of such nations.”
He also emphasised the “need to develop new strategies that connect national responses with international finance and technical partnership to stop the ravaging disease.”
According to President Buhari, “Nigeria welcomes the adoption of this Political Declaration, especially its relevant provisions which commit to provide diagnosis and treatment to 40 million people, including 3.5 million children between 2018 and 2022.
“The Declaration should also serve as a template for preventing TB for those most-at-risk, through rapid scale up of access to testing the infection, especially for the high-burdened countries,” he said.
The Nigerian leader also expressed confidence “that other commitments made under this important document, including those on development of new vaccines, drugs and community-based health services, will further guarantee success in our collective fight against the disease.”
Nigeria’s national TB eradication strategy, he noted, had long been structured to provide tailored quality services in terms of diagnosis, treatment and prevention, adding that “since assuming office in May 2015, we consistently increased budget appropriation for the health sector.”
The budgetary increment, he stressed, was with “a view to ensuring that we promote the well-being of our people through access to qualitative health care services,” adding that, “we are investing in research and development in our various public and specialised institutions.”
The President said the National Action Plan on TB Eradication 2015-2020, which is being pursued with renewed vigour, is structured on five priorities namely: detection of TB in adults and children; improving treatment in specific geographic areas that are under-performing; integrating TB and HIV services; building capacity for diagnosing and treating drug resistant TB; and creating strong and sustainable systems to support these achievements.
Stressing that private sector engagement for TB is also being stridently pursued as a robust Public-Private Mix (PPM), President Buhari, said that the national “strategic plan is geared towards meeting the overall aims of providing Nigerians with universal access to high quality, patient-centred prevention, as well as diagnosis and treatment services for Tuberculosis, TB/HIV and drug-resistance TB by 2020.”
Furthermore, the Nigerian government, he said, is “exploring the possibility of establishing a financial institution dedicated to providing financial lifelines for free, comprehensive and qualitative medical treatments,” aimed at mitigating the “financial burden on victims and to also ensure that we continue to save lives and create favourable conditions for economic and social development.”
Pledging his country’s resolve to address “institutional and societal challenges through the enhancement of strong multi-sectoral mechanisms,” the Nigerian President called on the global community to demonstrate renewed commitment to the Political Declaration on the eradication of TB.