By Salim Yunusa
Spokesman of the House of Representatives, Benjamin Kalu, has described as worrisome, 245,000 deaths arising from tuberculosis in Nigeria annually.
He said this on the sideline of an award of outstanding legislative contribution towards improved tuberculosis policy funding in the country.
The award ceremony, organised by Stop TB Partnership Nigeria in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO), USAID, National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme among others in Abuja, was to honour and recognise those who have contributed to the fight against the deadly disease.
Kalu said that TB accounts for more than 10 per cent of all deaths in Nigeria with around 245,000 deaths and 590,000 new cases yearly.
He said that in 2019, of the 384 million dollars required for TB response in Nigeria, 88,320,000 dollars which represent 23 per cent was funded by international donors.
According to him, only a meagre 26,880 dollars, which represents 7 per cent, was mobilised from domestic sources, leaving 268.8 million dollars, which represents 70 per cent unfunded.
The lawmaker said there was a need for the government to ensure more funding for TB to end its scourge in Nigeria.
Kalu said only a few matters affect the collective welfare of Nigerians more than the scourge of TB, pledging to commit himself to the cause of ending TB in Nigeria.
The lawmaker, while accepting the award, disclosed that the feat was made possible by the support of “a distinguished community of advocates who worked relentlessly to improve the government’s response to TB.”
“I believe that the scourge of TB is one that we will end but we can only do this as a united and coordinated front.
“And as a legislator for whom health remains a top legislative priority, I am committed to seeking optimised government intervention in the crisis of TB.
“Let me be clear to everyone in this hall, this community of impassioned advocates waging the good fight against TB is my constituency.
“On the floor of the House, when I speak for my people of Bende Federal Constituency, and I speak for all Nigerians, I also speak for all the organisations and caucuses fighting to end TB in Nigeria and the world at large,” he said.
The spokesperson assured that the parliament, under the leadership of the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, ending TB remains a top priority in the legislative agenda for health.