Loretta Wong, Deputy Chief of Global Advocacy and Policy, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), has called on world leaders to step up efforts and stay focused on ending tuberculosis (TB) globally.
Wong said this in a statement made available to the newsmen on Wednesday in Abuja by Mr Steve Aborisade, Advocacy and Marketing Manager, AHF-Nigeria.
She said that the World TB Day was observed annually on March 24 to raise awareness about one of the world’s deadliest infectious diseases with significant threat to the world, particularly persons living with HIV.
The AHF Deputy Chief said 2021 World TB Day, with theme: “Time’s Up for HIV and TB’’ was to remind everyone, including global leaders to act swiftly on commitments made to end the deadly disease.
“It is vital, especially during this pandemic that the world stays focused on ending TB to preserve the gains we have made over recent years.
“AHF urges governments and global public health organizations to guarantee treatment to all who are affected by TB.
“Time has run out for HIV and TB, it’s time to ensure everyone has the opportunity to know their TB and HIV status and protect their health,’’ Wong said.
Also speaking, Dr Echey Ijezie, the Country Program Director AHF-Nigeria, acknowledged that there was no better time than now for communities and stakeholders to halt the march of TB and HIV.
According to Ijezie, “Although TB was entirely preventable and treatable, nearly 4,000 people lose their lives to TB every day, and almost 28,000 become infected globally.
“The fight against TB especially amid COVID-19 is very important since both TB and the novel coronavirus affect the lungs.
“Therefore, each and every one of us and all stakeholders must renew our commitments and agree that time is up for HIV and TB.”
Mr Steve Aborishade, the Advocacy and Marketing Manager AHF-Nigeria said, the foundation would commemorate the day through virtual live event by panel of discussants on Twitter with theme: Tuberculosis in a time of COVID-19.
Aborishade said the virtual event would be collaboration between AHF and other stakeholders such as Global TB Caucus, Civil Society for the Eradication of TB in Nigeria, Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism among others.
He added that the event was intended to educate Nigerians about TB, create awareness, review interventions and remind stakeholders on commitments to stamp TB out of Nigeria.
AHF is the largest global AIDS Organisation, which currently provides medical care and services to over 1.5 million clients in 45 countries worldwide, including Nigeria.