Nigeria's National TB Conference honors and awards Global TB Caucus Member of Parliament
Updated: Nov 27, 2021
11 November 2021 -- Honorable Benjamin Okezie Kalu, Global TB Caucus Member of Parliament and member of Nigeria Parliamentary TB Caucus, was recently honored with the Stop TB Partnership and Prof. Lovett Lawson Award for Outstanding Contributions to end TB during Nigeria's National TB Conference last 11th of November. The award was received under the category of "Outstanding Legislative Contribution towards improved TB Policy and Funding".
In his acceptance speech, Hon. Kalu underscored insights from the 2021 Global TB Report on TB funding in Nigeria, sharing that parliamentarians of the Nigeria TB Caucus will continue to fight to improve the underfunding of TB . He also reminded stakeholders to both do more and push for better accountability towards the UNHLM commitments and the achievement of Nigeria's fair share of the targets -- especially given Nigeria's position as the country with sixth highest TB burden globally and the highest TB burden in Africa. He shared that "the purpose of government, according to the Nigerian constitution, is the security and welfare of the people and only a few matters affect the welfare of Nigerians as a collective more than the scourge of TB".
Hon. Kalu also declared, highlighting his role as the Spokesperson of the House of Representatives under the leadership of Honorable Femi Gbajabi Amila, that ending TB remains a top priority in the legislative agenda for health and further emphasised that the work of TB stakeholders remains his immediate constituency on the floor of the house. From this, he highlighted that his voice does not only represent "his constituents of Bende Federal Constituency but also the voice of the TB community and all caucuses fighting to end TB in Nigeria and the world at large".
In his speech's closing, he called for coordination and unity amongst stakeholders as he dedicated his award to the 9th Assembly of the House of Representatives and solicited for more support and partnership towards ending TB in Nigeria. He thanked the Global TB Caucus for continuing to be a reliable parliamentary network supporting the work of parliamentarians globally. He also acknowledged Stop TB Partnership Nigeria for their unwavering support, aid in promoting the integral nature of their work with the Nigerian parliament, and their partnership with parliamentarians in finding a lasting solution to TB in Nigeria.
The National TB Conference also saw the participation of the Honorable Minister of Health of Nigeria, parliamentarians from the Nigeria TB Caucus from the Senate and the House of Representatives, one of Global TB Caucus regional Co-Chairs from the African region Hon. Dr. Christopher Kalila, the participation of former Global TB Caucus Co-chair and Member of the Fellows Network RT Honorable David Emmanuel Ombugadu, and other notable TB actors and advocates.
After the conference, multiple Members of Parliament from the Global TB Caucus came together to discuss and exchange ideas on how to better the TB response in Nigeria and other countries in the African region through parliamentary action. The conference created a platform for learning and experience sharing between in-country MPs, visiting MPs, and members of the Global TB Caucus fellows network. This learning exchange was facilitated by Deborah Ogwuche (Francophone and West Africa regional manager) with support from Paidamoyo Magaya (Africa Regional Coordinator).
The following are snippets captured during the event:
Dr. Osagie E. Ehanire, the Minister of Health of Nigeria, noted in his speech that the advent of the pandemic impacted many aspects of human endeavor, including health services. He stated that Nigeria recorded a 30 per cent reduction in GeneXpert testing in the first week of the lockdown, the number of notified TB cases also dropped by 17 per cent from 33,119 TB cases in Q1, 2020 to 27,353 in Q2,2020. He said this drop necessitated the implementation of innovative interventions to ensure programme sustainability and mitigate impact on TB control efforts.
Aisha Buhari, Nigeria’s First Lady and Global Tuberculosis Ambassador, who was represented by the First Lady of Niger State, Amina Bello, urged all stakeholders to work together to eliminate the disease in Nigeria. Mrs. Buhari said a multi-sectoral approach and effective coordination are needed to tackle the disease.
WHO Country Representative in Nigeria, Walter Molumbo, commended the country’s efforts towards the elimination of the disease. Mr. Molumbo said as a technical partner, WHO will be supporting the National TB programme at all levels required. He said this includes the development of guidelines, adoption of new strategies, regimen, and interventions in addition to building capacities and enhancing data analysis and use for optimising performance. “We will also support the country in the implementation of the multisectoral approach towards ending the TB epidemic in Nigeria,” he said.