As Nigeria joins the rest of the globe to mark World Tuberculosis (TB) Day on Friday, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) has announced plans to hold what it called ‘Yes! We Can End TB’ event globally.
The event will be held to support everyone affected by TB and encourage world leaders to do their part in ending the disease as it is preventable and treatable, according to a statement on Wednesday.
World TB Day, observed on March 24 every year, is about honouring the millions of lives lost to TB while renewing the urgency around prevention, treatment, and research for the world’s deadliest infectious disease.
“AHF has made TB a top priority with efforts focused on educating our staff and clients, screening for TB in our clinics, and prioritising, preventing, and treating HIV/TB co-infection, the number one cause of death for people living with HIV,” said Terri Ford, AHF chief of global advocacy and policy.
“As a preventable and treatable disease, world leaders must do more to end TB, and we’re calling on them to do just that on World TB Day and beyond,” he added.
In 2021, TB claimed 1.6 million lives, and over 10 million people acquired TB, yet it remains neglected and underfunded in many countries, according to the statement.
Ford said: “With our World TB Day theme ‘Yes! We Can End TB’, AHF urges all governments and public health institutions to do their part to ensure TB research, prevention, and treatment programmes are fully funded and supported.
“We all must do more to finally stop TB worldwide, particularly in lower-income countries.”
AHF country teams are using World TB Day to send letters to their respective heads of state, calling on them to attend the United Nations High-Level Meeting on TB this September to show their commitment to ending tuberculosis in their countries, the statement said.
AHF said it would also host a ‘Reviving TB Advocacy Worldwide’ panel discussion with public health thought leaders and TB experts at the Consortium of Universities for Global Health conference on April 13.
“Ending TB for us in Nigeria must come with an intensified level of case finding and for patients who show up in hospitals to embrace treatment, which is free across health facilities in the country,” Echey Ijezie, country program director at AHF Nigeria, said.
“Importantly, we must increase the funding available to TB, improve the level of education and awareness about TB, as well as engage pointedly, the rising incidences of stigma related to TB while not forgetting that TB is curable.”
‘‘Nigeria’s situation deserves urgent attention as the WHO lists the nation among the ten countries accounting for 64 percent of the global gap in TB case finding, with India, Indonesia and Nigeria accounting for almost half of the total gap,” he added.