To further reduce the menace of Tuberculosis (TB) in Nigeria, some experts in the health sector have called for the integration of TB services into state health insurance schemes.
Speaking at the 4th annual legislative summit on health in Abuja on Tuesday, Emeka Ogbuabor, a board member of Stop TB Partnership, said the move has the potential to yield additional funding for service delivery and eliminate user fees for TB patients.
The two-day summit, which began on Monday, is themed; “Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and Health Security; Two Sides of a Coin for an Efficient Health System.”
Mr Ogbuabor said there is an existing huge funding gap in TB management, even as the disease kills 18 persons per hour in the country.
“We have about 70 per cent funding gap. Of the 30 per cent funds we used in 2019, 23 per cent were developmental assistance funds; only 7 per cent were domestically mobilised,” he said.
He said it is important for the country to prioritise TB if the country is to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by the year 2030.
“From the UHC perspective, that means we need to increase coverage, improve access and use, and then improve quality of TB care. This way we can guarantee improved TB outcomes.”
Mr Ogbuabor said one of the key challenges in TB domestic resources mobilisation is how to integrate the disease into health insurance schemes.
He said; “many states have not done their analysis and cannot say how much it would cost additionally on their premium to support this process.
“How can we get the various state legislatures to include this in their agenda, and interface with their various state governments to get the required funds to do an actuarial study to find out how much it will cost, and use it as an advocacy tool to push for the equity funds to be released and fill the funding gap.”
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He said TB should top political agenda in the country, making it a development issue.
Tuberculosis is a contagious disease that is caused by a bacterium (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that often affects the lungs.
Nigeria remains one of the 30 countries globally with the highest burden of TB. She ranks first in Africa with the number of undetected cases.
Although TB is one of the vaccine-preventable diseases which is also curable, statistics from the WHO shows that every year, around 245,000 Nigerians die from TB, and about 590,000 new cases occur.
Of the 590,000 new cases, experts say around 140,000 are also HIV-positive.
Data released by ‘Stop TB Partnership’ in March shows that global treatment and diagnosis of TB cases witnessed a drastic decline in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has infected millions of people worldwide.
The report also indicates that disruptions in services caused by the pandemic have led to further setbacks in progress already made against the disease.