By: Joy Odor/Abuja
The Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission Director, Mr Stephen Haykin has disclosed that over the last five years, the U.S. government through USAIDn supported Nigerian health officials to save the lives of more than 581,000 Nigerians with tuberculosis.
He made this known at the close out ceremony for the USAID funded Challenge TB activity.
According to him, in collaboration with Nigeria’s National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Program, Challenge-TB provided technical support that helped close gaps in diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis, contributing to improving access to TB services, preventing disease progression and strengthening service delivery platforms.
The USAID Mission Director added that with, the help of Challenge TB and in alignment with the National TB Control Program’s END TB Strategic Plan, Nigeria increased TB case notification by two-fold over the last five years and improved TB treatment coverage.
“Since 2014, Challenge TB implemented health facility and community-based TB case finding interventions, including health systems strengthening, in 14 Nigerian states. At today’s dissemination, key TB stakeholders came together to share the results from this $40 million activity.
“In collaboration with the Government of Nigeria and other TB partners, Challenge TB worked to raise awareness, reduce stigma and improve health seeking behaviors among vulnerable Nigerians.
“Focus states for TB Challenge included Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Benue, Cross Rivers, Enugu, Kano, Katsina, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ondo, Ogun, Osun, and Rivers.
“USAID has collaborated with the National TB Control Program since 2003, having invested more than $207 million toward TB control.
“This support has resulted in the establishment of more than 3,000 new TB clinics, strengthening of diagnostic capability, training for health workers, and the expansion of control services into the private sector” USAID Mission Director Stephen M. Haykin said at the closing ceremony.
In his tesmony, one of the survivors, Kasimu Yahaya, 24, of Keffi and a student of Nasarawa State University in 2017 said “when he fell ill with weakness, headache and cough. When medication did not improve his condition, he went to a USAID-supported primary Health Care Center where he tested positive for TB.
“After six months of free treatment, Yahaya is fully cured, and with the financial help of Challenge TB, has completed his education and is now a self-appointed advocate for TB awareness across Nasarawa state.
“I didn’t know all this time that the help I received was from the American people,” Yahya said. “I will be grateful always. What’s more important than help to improve your health and save your life? Without health you can’t achieve anything else. Yahaya said