Mobilising efforts to end tuberculosis

15 Sep 2020, 12:00 am
Financial Nigeria


Access Bank launched a campaign in May on TB prevention, control and treatment in two communities in Anambra State.

Symbol for end tuberculosis campaign

Tuberculosis (TB) is the ninth leading cause of death worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). It is also the world's most deadly infectious disease. A total of 1.5 million people died from the disease in 2018 (including 251,000 people with HIV), down from 1.7 million in the preceding year.
First declared a public health crisis in 1993, the United Nations agency said TB incidence has been falling at about 2 per cent per year. However, the global incidence of the disease still remains high. In fact, there are cases of TB in all countries and age groups. WHO data shows that in 2018, an estimated 10 million people fell ill with TB globally, with 3.2 million and 1.1 million of the new cases being women and children, respectively.

In the same year, the African region accounted for the second highest (24 per cent) number of new global TB cases, after the South-East Asian region, which accounted for 44 per cent of new cases. Nigeria and South Africa were among the eight high TB burden countries that accounted for two-thirds of the total cases. The other countries were India, China, Indonesia, Philippines, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The disease is both curable and preventable. WHO’s End TB Strategy aims to reach a 4-5 per cent annual rate of decline by 2020. However, this milestone has not been achieved. The End TB Strategy has a target to reduce TB deaths by 95 per cent and to gradually cut new cases by 90 per cent between 2015 and 2035. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) also has a health target of ending TB epidemic by 2030. Achieving these targets requires mobilising high-level commitment and financing.

A 2019 report published by the Lancet Commission on TB shows that it could cost up to $10 billion a year to reduce TB deaths by 90 per cent over the next 25 years. The report says the world could end TB if investment is made in a range of measures, including research and development, targeted prevention and high-quality diagnostics.

Access Bank Plc has continued with its advocacy to end the burden of TB in Africa. The advocacy is part of the bank's commitment to support the improvement of health outcomes on the continent.

Recognising that the current COVID-19 pandemic has created widespread disruptions to efforts aimed at eradicating various epidemics, including TB and HIV, Access Bank partnered with Nirvana Initiative in May 2020 to launch a programme to help in reducing the prevalence of TB in two communities in Anambra State, Nigeria. The two communities were Awada, Muru village in Ogidi, Idemili North Local Government Area (LGA), and Ogbeumuonicha, Onitsha North LGA of the state.

The targeted programme involved the distribution of information, education and communication (IEC) materials on prevention of the deadly infectious disease in those communities. Free diagnostic testing was also provided to people in the communities. Access Bank said over 104,900 people were reached through the campaign on TB prevention, control and treatment in the communities in the southeastern Nigerian state.

Speaking on the campaign, Head of Sustainability at Access Bank, Omobolanle Victor-Laniyan, said, “Healthcare is one of our CSR priority areas at Access Bank even as the bank continues to make significant investments towards building a vibrant society. This programme is one of the initiatives we have devised to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on access to diagnosis and treatment of other health challenges like TB and HIV, especially for people in the grassroots.”

Access Bank also recognizes that eradicating TB has additional benefit in reducing HIV-related deaths. TB is a leading killer of people living with HIV. As a high TB burden country, WHO data shows an estimated 407,000 people contract TB in Nigeria every year. The country is also part of the WHO African region, where over 25 per cent of TB deaths occur.

Nirvana Initiative, which has been providing support for people with sickle cell anemia and eradicating the stigma associated with the disorder, joined Access Bank on this campaign to help accelerate progress on ending the TB epidemic in Nigeria.