Walking the talk: Nigeria Declares 2017 the Year of "Accelerating TB Case Finding"

02 February 2017 - Nigeria - In an unprecedented effort to address one of the biggest public health threats in Nigeria, the Honourable Minister of Health for Nigeria, Professor Isaac Adewole declared 2017 as the year of "Accelerating TB Case Finding" in the country. The announcement was made last week at the 59th National Council on Health Meeting, held in Umuahia, Abia State. TB is a major public health problem in Nigeria. Case finding remains a major challenge as despite all the efforts, the programme was only able to notify 15% (90,584) of the estimated TB cases (586,000) in the country in 2015. This shows a huge gap in TB case finding which may continue to widen if these missing cases are not detected. In the last ten years, the country has implemented various interventions to address the challenge of low TB case finding. However, achieving the reduction in TB incidence rate for attainment of the 90-(90)- 90 targets as outlined in the Global Plan to End TB 2016-2020, the End TB Strategy targets, and Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 will be a unreachable if something drastic is not done.

In view of the huge gap in TB case finding and the commitment of the present administration towards ending TB in Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) through the guidance of the National TB and Leprosy and Buruli-Ulcer Control Programme with support of the partners and other stakeholders, has taken a bold step in achieving this milestone by declaring the year 2017 as the year of "Accelerating TB Case Finding" in Nigeria. This declaration aims at mobilizing political commitment and resources from all levels of government and partners for the implementation of strategic TB case finding interventions.

The FMoH also used the opportunity of the declaration to launch the Plan for the Implementation of "Accelerating TB Case Finding" and "End TB Strategy Operational Framework for Nigeria".

Recently, Nigeria has made giant strides in its efforts to end TB in the country through the hard work of the government and partners and especially Stop TB Partnership Nigeria.

There is increased political profile and awareness on TB through the support of Her Excellency, Wife of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Mrs. Aisha Muhammadu Buhari as a Global TB Champion and Ambassador. The 2016 National TB Conferenceand the formation of the Nigeria Parliamentary TB Caucus as well as the TB Community Forum are other platforms and initiatives that ensure TB remains very high on the political and national agenda. The Stop TB Partnership Nigeria is currently working to further intensify these efforts and cascade it to sub-national levels (States and Local Governments) with the aim of contributing to the efforts of all stakeholders to accelerate TB case finding in the country.

There have been responses from different stakeholders all over the world on this declaration from Nigeria, and some are highlighted below:

"I welcome the declaration by the Honourable Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole dedicating 2017 to "Accelerate TB Case Finding in Nigeria". As the Global TB Champion and Ambassador, I am glad that the intensified efforts needed to end TB in Nigeria have commenced. I hope that the declaration and commitment by the Honourable Minister will further enhance the efforts of all stakeholders working towards ending TB.
- Her Excellency, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, Wife of the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria

" We are grateful for the support of Her Excellency Mrs. Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, Wife of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Ministry of Health in supporting South Africa's Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi and our entire Board in making the UN HLM on TB a reality. This call for clear action towards Accelerating TB Case Finding in 2017 shows great leadership and vision and will be one of the successes to be presented during this meeting."
- Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership

"The government of Nigeria should be applauded for its leadership role in finding missing TB cases. Identifying and treating these individuals will achieve our ultimate goal of saving lives from this curable disease."
- Dr Eric Goosby, United Nations Special Envoy on Tuberculosis

"This declaration by the Hon. Minister of Health, is a wake-up call for all stakeholders especially parliamentarians in the country. Through the Nigeria Parliamentary TB Caucus, we will work with all arms of the government at various levels; we will engage parliamentarians across the country and work with all stakeholders in all our constituencies to support this effort and ensure that we end TB in Nigeria".
- Hon. Davematics Ombugadu, Chair, Committee on AIDS, TB and Malaria,
House of Representatives, The National Assembly, Nigeria
Co-Chair, West African Region, Africa TB Caucus

"I want to commend the Minister of Health for taking this very bold step which will greatly contribute to ending TB in Nigeria. The leadership shown by the government is a great motivation to all of us as partners, and we will provide all necessary support to accelerate TB case finding in the country"
- Prof. Lovett Lawson, Board Chair, Stop TB Partnership Nigeria

"We appreciate the leadership and commitment of the Honourable Minister to end TB in Nigeria by declaring 2017 as the year for "Accelerating TB Case Finding" in the country. Accelerating TB Case Finding is a sure way to ending TB in Nigeria and NTBLCP will work with all partners and stakeholders to achieve this goal" - Dr. Adebola Lawanson, National Coordinator,
National Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Buruli-Ulcer Control Programme, Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria