No less than 18 Nigerians die of tuberculosis, TB, every hour totalling 432 deaths daily, according to the World Health Organization, WHO, which ranks Nigeria as having the 2nd highest incidence rate in Africa and 7th among the 30 high TB burden countries in the world.
According to the WHO, every hour, 47 Nigerians develop active TB, seven of who are children, even as Nigeria is ranked among the 14 high burden countries for TB, TB/HIV and Multidrug Resistant TB (MDR-TB).
Disclosing these and other statistics on Monday in Lagos, the Acting Coordinator, Non Communicable Diseases Cluster, WHO, Dr Linda Ozor, said Nigeria is also among the 10 countries that accounted for 64 percent of the global gap in "missing TB cases".
Quoting the 2017 Global TB Report, Ozor, who spoke on behalf of the WHO Country Rep, Dr Wondimagegnehu Alemu, at the 1st National Summit on Public Private Mix (PPM) for TB Control, said it was essential to engage the private corporate organisations and private health institutions to commit to take TB control as one of their corporate social responsibilities.
Her words: "More worrisome is the fact that every hour, 18 Nigerians die of TB, a disease that is preventable and curable. This is not simply statistics, behind these figures they are humans.
"The disease in Nigeria is further fuelled by the large number of undetected TB cases (missing cases), which serve as pool of reservoir for the continuous transmission of the disease. Each undetected TB case has potential of infecting 10-15 persons in a year."
Noting that only 14 percent of private institutions are collaborating with the National TB Control programme, while only 1 in 5 (19 percent) TB cases are being managed at private health facilities, Ozor called for more involvement og the private sector in TB control programme.
The WHO official said Nigeria increased its TB detection rate from 17 percent to 24 percent (41 percent increase) and declared 2017 year for accelerated TB case finding, but pointed out that outstanding challenges were being addressed collectively by stakeholders to get a breakthrough in the fight to end TB.
"Among the challenges are how to find the remaining 300,000 cases which are still missed by the health sector. Of the total 400,000 cases, only 100,000 were reported. In Lagos State, of the 3 expected cases, 2 are missed."
Among other challenges she harped on were expanding quality TB diagnostic coverage nationwide, both optimisation of the existing gene Xpert diagnostic machine (390 and increasing awareness of the general public.
Confirming that Lagos State has the highest estimated burden of TB cases in the country, the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris said the development is by virtue of the State's large poplulation, population density and metropolitan nature of Lagos.
"Most of challenges of TB control have to do with funding and these can be resolved. It is in this light the Summit has become so important and timely."
Idris stated that at the moment there are 926 TB treatment centres covering all 57 LGA/LCDAs, 108 TB microscopy and 30 GeneXpert sites with at least one machine in each of the 20 LGAs.