The Federal Government aims to have at least one GeneXpert machine per Local Government Area for testing HIV and Tuberculosis, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has said.
Adewole made the plan known in Abuja on Tuesday at the State Tuberculosis and HIV Programme Managers and stakeholders meeting.
He said the meeting was to allow a joint discussion on HIV and TB as well as for separate meetings in which the HIV group would hold its Annual Review and Planning meeting.
The minister said the meeting would allow the TB group discuss modalities for ensuring smooth take-off and successful implementation of the Global Fund TB grant for 2019 to 2020.
He said since the beginning of HIV epidemic, more than 70 million people had been infected with the HIV virus and that 35 million people had died from HIV infection worldwide.
Adewole said globally, 36.9 million people were estimated to be living with HIV at the end of 2017 with the burden of the epidemic varying considerably among countries and regions.
He said Sub-Saharan Africa remained the most severely affected with nearly one in every 25 adults (4.1 per cent) estimated to be living with HIV.
Adewole said Nigeria was estimated to have up to 3.1 million people living with HIV, translating to the second highest burden of HIV in the world.
He also said TB was currently the number one infectious disease worldwide and that it killed more people than HIV and AIDS.
The minister said that in 2017, 10 million people fell ill with TB globally and 1.6 million died from the disease, among them 300,000 people infected with HIV.
He said children accounted for part of these numbers with an estimate of one million becoming ill with TB globally in 2017 and 230,000 of them resulting in mortality, including children with HIV associated TB.
According to Adewole, in the 2018 World Health Organisation Global TB report, Nigeria is currently ranked sixth globally and first in Africa both for Drug-susceptible TB (DS-TB) and Drug-resistant TB (DR-TB).
He also said Nigeria was among 14 countries in the world that had the highest burden of TB, HIV associated TB and drug resistant TB.
Adewole said the National Treatment Programme had three main objectives, namely: “Ensuring a strong institutional structure both at national and sub-national levels for effective coordination and implementation of HIV programme nationwide.
“Building capacity and strengthening of health sector response and ownership of HIV programme at all tiers of implementation and mobilising resources for programme implementation.
“Low TB case finding remains our major challenge as corroborated by the National TB prevalence survey report.”
Adewole said the national TB treatment coverage of 24 per cent in 2017 was one of the indicators used in monitoring Universal Health Coverage progress on the Sustainable Development Goals.
He said it implied that out of the estimated 418,290 new TB cases, only 104,904 TB cases were notified leaving over 300,000 cases undiagnosed and untreated.
“This trend is worrisome and requires drastic remedial measures in order for us to meet our goal of ENDING TB by 2035,” the minister stressed.