By Prudence Ijah
The commemoration of world tuberculosis day has indeed reinstated the need for concerted efforts in finding missed cases, diagnosis and treatment of TB cases in Nigeria.
As stakeholders in the health sector however attributed the challenges of TB response in the country to low TB case findings both in adults and children, poor TB treatment access, poor awareness and huge funding gap.
They further expressed worry that Nigeria may not meet the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target of ending tuberculosis disease by 2030.
Tuberculosis (TB), is a disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis which most often affects the lungs.
According to the 2018 global TB report, Nigeria is not only among the 30 high burden countries for TB, TB/HIV and multi drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) but is also ranked 6th among the 30 high TB- burden countries and the first in Africa.
The report estimated that tuberculosis kills 18 Nigerians every hour, with 49 people developing active TB every hour, seven of which are children case while cases not detected can infect 10 -15 persons in a year.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), when people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air. A person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected.
Speaking at the world TB day commemoration, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, solicited for adequate funding for National TB and Leprosy Control Programme,NTBLCP.
Director General of NCDC,Dr Chikwe Iheakwuazu who made the appeal in a goodwill message he presented at the commemoration, in Abuja, noted that “Nigeria accounts for 11% of the global gaps between TB incidence and notified cases.”
” I call on all donor agencies, government of Nigeria and other Spirited individuals to support the NTBLCP with the required funding needed to combat this deadly disease,”he said.
Iheakwuazu said, ”The Nigerian Centre for Disease control (NCDC) which is saddled with the mandate for Disease outbreak, reporting and surveillance is glad to collaborate with the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy control Programme to find the missing cases with immediate reporting for the NTBLCP intervention.”
Noting that both Tuberculosis and COVID-19 share similar symptoms,the NCDC boss advised citizens experiencing symptoms associated with cough on “the need to have appropriate diagnosis for both diseases to determine the actual cause of any cough is crucial.
While launching the Unified TB Campaign and the ACSM Guideline, at the commemoration of this year’s World TB Day, the minister of health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said the main drivers of the TB burden in the country are under-nutrition, HIV, diabetes, smoking and alcohol use, with over 400,000 estimated TB cases in 2019.
He however expressed worry that the working age group of Nigerians, 15 – 44 years, is most affected by TB morbidity and mortality, with over 150,000 estimated TB deaths in 2019.
The minister, who was represented by the minister of state for health, Dr. Adeyeye Mamora, said “A key challenge to our control effort has been the slow pace of achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) for TB services. TB DOTS services are only available in 31 per cent of health facilities. The current coverage of GeneXpert machines, the first-line test for TB diagnosis, is barely 41per cent, 317 out of 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs).”
However, Mamora said in order to promote community ownership of TB control and discourage stigmatisation of presumptive and confirmed TB patients, community TB interventions are implemented through community-based organisations.
“Community contribution to our national TB case notification rose to 22% in 2019.
“In furtherance to our robust public-private mix DOTS (PPM-DOTS) engagement plan, we have now scaled up to all states. This has demonstrated incremental value to TB notification; from 12 per cent private sector contribution in 2018 to as high as 45 per cent in some states. Collaboration with private laboratories for GeneXpert services has also improved TB diagnosis.
World TB day is a global event commemorated on the 24th of March every year to raise public awareness on TB and efforts made to prevent and treat the disease.
The theme of world TB day this year is “The clock is ticking to end TB in Nigeria” and the Slogan is “That Cough fit be TB not COVID, Check am ooo”.
The week long world TB day commemoration activities witnessed outreach by the National TB and Leprosy Control Programme, NTBLCP
in communities in Abuja.