The member representing Bende Federal Constituency and the Spokesperson of the House, today, November 11, 2021 received the award for Outstanding Legislative Contribution towards improved TB policy and funding from the Stop TB Partnership Nigeria at an award ceremony which took place after 2-day conference at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.
The award recognition which was presented to the legislator by Dr. Funke Lawson, a patron of the Stop TB partnership is in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the fight against Tuberculosis in the Nigeria and his active engagement in legislative activities of Nigeria Parliamentary TB Caucus, Africa TB Caucus and Global Caucus.
Rep. Kalu who moved a motion on the need for urgent intervention in the Public Health Crisis of Tuberculosis in Nigeria on 24th of March in Commemoration of the World Tuberculosis Day, has also pushed for the amendment of various health related laws in Nigeria in the fight to ending TB.
While delivering his acceptance speech for the award, Rep. Kalu expressed gratitude to the Stop TB Partnership for the honour given to him in recognition of his efforts to the campaign against Tuberculosis. He highlighted the number deaths caused with the rise of TB in the country emphasizing on the need for more effort to be put into ending the scourge as it is a matter of national concern. He further added that the House under the leadership of the Speaker, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila will ensure that ending TB continues to remain top priority in the legislative agenda for the health sector.
The event was attended by Honorable Dr. Christopher Kalila, Member of Parliament of Zambia, Co-chair Africa TB Caucus and
Member, Global TB Caucus, Mrs. Deborah Ogwuche-Ikeh, Francophone and West Africa Regional Manager, Global TB Caucus and Executive Director DHDC, Nigeria, amongst other dignitaries.
Special Guests of Honor to the award ceremony were Dr. Mrs Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, The First Lady, Federal Republic of Nigeria and Global TB Ambassador, Dr. Emmanuel Osage Ehanire, Hon. Minister, Federal Ministry of Health, Hon. Mary Beth Leonard, US Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director Stop TB Partnership Geneva, Dr. Teresa Kasaeva, Director Global TB programme, World Health Organization Geneva, Dr. Ifedayo Morayo Adetifa, Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
Some of the awardees include Dr. Mrs. Olufolake Abdulrazaq, the First Lady of Kwara State, Dr. Mustapha Gudado, the Executive Director KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation, Austin Arinze Obiefuba, the Executive Director, Afro Global Alliance and Technical Director of African Coalition on TB (ACT) also Adebola Tope Adams, a DR-TB survivor and advocate amongst others.
Dedicating the award to the other awardees who are currently fighting to end TB in Nigeria and across the globe, Rep. Kalu assured the Stop TB- Partnership of his relentless commitment and that of the 9th House of Representatives to ensure that the menace of TB is brought under control in Nigeria.
ACCEPTANCE SPEECH DELIVERED BY REP. BENJAMIN KALU ON HIS AWARD OF OUTSTANDING LEGISLATIVE CONTRIBUTION TOWARDS IMPROVED TB POLICY AND FUNDING
Good evening ladies and gentlemen.
It is my delight to accept this recognition for Outstanding Legislative Contribution towards improved Tuberculosis (TB) Policy and Funding. This feat is made possible by the support of a distinguished community of advocates who have relentlessly worked with stakeholders such as the House of Representatives to improve the government’s response to TB.
TB remains a matter of grave national concern. Ending the TB epidemic by 2030 is one of the health targets of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of which Nigeria is a signatory. And as a legislator for whom health remains a top legislative priority, I am committed to seeking optimized government intervention in the crises of TB.
It is concerning that TB accounts for more than 10% of all deaths in Nigeria with around 245,000 deaths and 590,000 new cases yearly. It is also concerning that in 2019, of the $384,000,000 required for TB response in Nigeria, $88,320,000 (23%) was funded by international donors and only a meagre $26,880 (7%) was mobilized from domestic sources, leaving $268,800,000 (70%) unfunded.
The purpose of government according to our constitution is the security and welfare of the people. Few matters affect the welfare of Nigerians as a collective more than the scourge of TB. It is, therefore, my solemn pledge to commit myself to the cause for which we are all gathered here today.
Let me be clear; Everyone in this hall, this community of impassioned advocates waging the good fight against TB is my constituency. On the floor of the House, when I speak for my people of Bende Federal Constituency, and I speak for all Nigerians, I also speak for all the organizations and caucuses fighting to end TB in Nigeria and the world at large.
As the Spokesperson of the House, I can assure you that for the Parliament, under the leadership of the Speaker, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, ending TB remains a top priority in our legislative agenda for health. During the peak, and in the wake, of the Covid-19 pandemic when TB services were massively disrupted barely a year after our inauguration, we recognized the negative impact that Covid-19 could have on TB response and proactively applied legislative actions and strategic partnerships to mitigate this. We have since then continued to tackle TB through our oversight functions and parliamentary debates, one of which was a motion sponsored by myself on the floor of the parliament, on the need to intervene in the public health crises of TB in Nigeria. That motion yielded a public hearing which will be held soon to prepare a joint resolution that will be presented to the House for necessary action.
The 2021 Global TB report that was released a few weeks ago shows that Nigeria continues to rank as the number one country with the highest TB burden in Africa and number six globally. This fact is a constant reminder that we need to do more and should enthuse us to push for better accountability towards the UN High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage commitments and the achievement of our fair share targets as a country.
Ladies and gentlemen, I believe that the scourge of TB is one that we will end. But we can only do this as a united and coordinated front.
Thank you once again for this honour. Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.