Nigeria: Fresh Concerns Over Rising TB Cases, Deaths

Tuberculosis can be cured.
6 September 2018

There are fresh concerns that every individual living in Nigeria will likely be infected with tuberculosis if swift and adequate responses are not taken.

Nigeria is currently ranked seventh among the 30 high-burdened TB countries globally and second in Africa, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), disturbing statistics that has raised fear among experts.

Further statistics by the 2017 Global TB Report ranks Nigeria among the 14 high burden countries for TB, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB).

According to WHO, every hour, 47 Nigerians develop active TB, seven of which are children.

More worrisome is the fact that every hour, 18 Nigerians die of TB, a disease that is preventable and curable, WHO stated.

However, experts have identified poor funding, inadequate facilities, low level of awareness and rising incidence of multi-resistant drug among others factors hindering Nigeria's fight against tuberculosis, which is a top infectious killer disease that continues to be global threat with 11 million people developing the disease yearly.

The two-day national summit on Public-Private Mix (PPM) for tuberculosis control in Nigeria, jointly organised by the Federal Ministry of Health, WHO and Stop TB Partnership Nigeria, in collaboration with the Control Programme in Lagos State, saw healthcare professionals, heads of various companies from different sectors, as well as International and Development Partners from different organisations, dialogue and proffer solutions to challenges of financing TB programmes in Nigeria and to propose strategies to improve synergy among different stakeholders to harness and leverage on available resources to end TB in Nigeria.

Lamenting the staggering statistics of the global health issue, the WHO Country Representative in Nigeria, Dr Wondimagegnehu Alemu, said the burden of the disease in Nigeria is further fuelled by huge number of undetected TB cases, which serves as a pool of reservoir for the continuous transmission of the disease, as each undetected case has the potential of infecting 10 to 15 persons in a year.

Alemu, who was represented by the National Professional Officer for Malaria at WHO, Dr Linda Ozor, said Nigeria is among the 10 countries that accounted for 64 per cent of the global gap in missing TB cases, adding that even though the federal and state governments were working to bring TB under control, Nigeria should strengthen its efforts to address the challenges by finding the remaining 300,000 cases, which are still missed by the health sector; expand quality TB diagnostic coverage nationwide; optimisation of the existing gene Xpert diagnostic machines (390) and adding more; and increase awareness of general public about TB so that they report to health facilities of suspecting signs.

Others, he said, include increasing involvement of private sector in TB control programmes, noting that available data shows that only 14 per cent of private health institutions are collaborating with the national TB control programme, and only one in five (19 per cent) TB cases are being managed at private health clinics.

Responding to disease burden in Lagos state, the Commissioner for Health, Dr JIde Idris, who declared the summit open, said 420, 000 Nigerians die yearly due to TB, and of 400, 000 cases in the country, only one in four persons is being treated for the disease.

He lamented that three in four cases of TB are not diagnosed let alone put on treatment, which according to him, is very dangerous to the public health.

The Board Chair, Stop TB Partnership Nigeria, Prof. Lovett Lawson said TB transmission, which occurs anywhere, could only be stopped when all suspected cases were tested and treated appropriately, adding that the cases, deaths and economic implications of TB were becoming.

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