5 April 2016

Nigeria: Scientists Worry Over Nigeria's High TB Burden

Despite progress made globally in the fight against Tuberculosis, Nigerian scientists have raised alarm over increasing new cases of Tuberculosis (TB), lamenting that Nigeria not only ranked 5th among countries with highest burden of the disease but leads the rest of Africa in TB cases.

The scientists who spoke at a symposium organised by the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, NIMR, to mark this year's World Tuberculosis Day with the theme: "Unite to End TB" called for political will in the fight against the killer disease.

In 2014 estimates showed that Nigeria in 2014 had about 600,000 people infected with the disease and more than 500,000 people infected with Tuberculosis in Nigeria remain undetected and not placed on treatment.

Decrying that TB is treatable and curable if appropriate treatment commenced on time, the Medical Director, Mainland Hospital Lagos, Dr. Abimbola Bolawale maintained that TB is on the expressway in Nigeria.

Bolawale who was represented by Dr. SOA Adesola regretted that despite the rise in cases of TB in Nigeria, the country seems not to be doing enough in terms of treatment, management and research.

"TB is a headache for Nigerians because it ranks 5th among 22 countries with highest burden in the world. TB is on the express lane and it is still an emergency in Nigeria."

Earlier, the Director General of NIMR, Prof Innocent Ujah who described TB as the disease of poverty said TB remains one of the world's most deadly infectious conditions and leading cause of deaths worldwide.

He recalled that in 2014, an estimated 9.6 million people globally fell ill with TB resulting to 1.5 million deaths.

Ujah said NIMR is appraising the progress and challenges that may erode the country's success and fashion out strategy to sustain the gains made towards reducing TB deaths by 95 percent and TB incidence rate by 90 percent by 2035.

On his part, the Dr Patrick Sunday Dakum from the Institute of Human Virology of Nigeria, who lamented that three million new cases of TB are missed globally, urged the NIMR to intensify research and innovations towards the fight against multi-drug TB.

Chairman of the symposium, Dr. Shofola said global TB control strategies which saved 43 million lives in the last 15 years, give hope that the fight can be won.

"In Nigeria, there is remarkable progress in TB control but there are gaps particularly the high TB prevalence compared to cases notified which indicate low case detection, suggesting that coverage of vulnerable populations remains low."

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