Institute calls for inclusion of TB treatment in health insurance

The Institute of Human Virology, Nigeria (IHVN) has called on states to include tuberculosis treatment in state health insurance schemes to end the disease in the country.

Chief Executive Officer, IHVN, Dr. Patrick Dakum, made the call in an interview on Sunday in Abuja.

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Dakum said that the inadequate or near zero funding of tuberculosis by states and local governments across the country is crippling efforts of the federal government and other donor agencies to eradicate the disease.

“In 2018, Nigeria detected over 100,000 cases of TB out of estimated 480,000 people; the gap in case detection is still enormous, over 70 per cent. If you look at that, you will say we are not making progress.

“For us to have detected over 100,000 cases and put those under treatment, means we have actually helped to limit the transmission of those cases not treated.

“But, we need to do more because a prevalence survey was done in 2012 that showed that the gap is very huge,” he said,

The institute’s chief executive however, lamented that the knowledge gap on tuberculosis is still very wide, adding that a lot of people don’t know that treatment of tuberculosis is free.

Dakum said that if all the state governors included tuberculosis in their health insurance scheme, it would improve the case detection rate which still remains low across the country.

He said inclusion of tuberculosis in state health insurance schemes would also strengthen Nigeria’s capacity to mitigate the disease and other infectious diseases in the country.

Furthermore, he advised state governments to scale up access to prevention and treatment, build accountability and ensure sufficient and sustainable financing for tuberculosis treatment and research.

“We hope to promote an end to the stigma and discrimination, and promote an equitable rights-based and people-centered tuberculosis response in Nigeria,” he said.

Dakum said that the state governments should work and sustain its house-to-house search for new active cases of tuberculosis to raise the detection rate in their states.

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Ihesiulo Grace

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