PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan has decried the increasing rise in Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB) in Africa, urging the continent’s leaders to adopt policies and legislations that would strengthen its poor health systems.
Declaring open the 18th African Region Conference of the International Union Against TB and Lung Diseases (IUATLD) yesterday in Abuja, President Jonathan, who was represented by the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, expressed the concern that the diseases’ burden had compounded the emergence of MDR-TB:
He said: “A drug-resistant epidemic of TB is a serious threat to all our efforts. People on our continent must be provided with the information, diagnostic facilities and treatment for MDR-TB.
“In Africa today, a tragedy of extraordinary proportions is unfolding due to HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (ATM), claiming more lives than the sum total of all wars, famine and floods.”
The President said a successful exit strategy against ATM would include them as part of broader development and poverty reduction initiatives.
Advocating an active MDR-TB surveillance system on the continent as a means of improving quality of information, he canvassed investments in strengthening diagnostic capacity of existing laboratories for TB, MDR and Extremely Drug Resistant (XDR) diseases.
On the significance of the four-day conference titled “TB, TB/HIV and other lung diseases: Challenges to the attainment of MDGs in Africa,” the President observed: “The conference is coming at a time when many areas of the world, in particular, Sub-Saharan Africa, have made very slow progress at poverty reduction. Consequently they are at a major risk of not meeting the MDGs by 2015.
“I wish to appeal to our governments to put in place polices and legislative actions that will strengthen the health systems…as a result also control TB and MDR-TB.”
He stressed that intensive support from the international community and concerted action by African countries in creating favourable investment climates, pro-poor growth initiatives, effective use of public resources, adequate human development investment would aid accelerated progress towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Former World Health Organisation Country Director, Peter Eriki, lamented that though incidence rate of ATM continue to fall globally, “Africa still is not on track of the development, as mobilising adequate finance to support both TB control and strengthening health system remains a challenge.”
According to him, the six strategies that could check the gap include health financing, service delivery, workforce, information and provision of medical products and technologies.
National Coordinator, National TB and Leprosy Control Programme, Nigeria, Dr. Mansur Kabir, said: “The emergence of MDR-XDR in the face of high prevalence of HIV makes it even more imperative for us as a region to discuss new initiatives that could facilitate our collective efforts towards controlling the diseases as well as reaching the MDGs.”
Chairman, Local Organising Committee of the IUATLD Conference and Secretary-General, Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria, Prof. Emmanuel Oni Idigbe, said indicators showed the pathway between the recognition of TB symptoms, health-seeking, diagnosis and treatment was still a challenge in Africa.
|< Prev||Next >|