Joe Effiong, Uyo
Nigerian Thoracic Society (NTS) has advised governments at various levels in Nigeria not to lose sight of tuberculosis which still remains number one infectious killer disease, even as they prosecute the fight against coronavirus pandemic.
The Society in a press statement issued in commemoration of the 2020 World Tuberculosis Day on Tuesday as signed by its president and secretary, Prof. P.U. Ele and Dr Victor Umoh, respectively, said tuberculosis is one of the 10 causes of deaths worldwide as of the end of 2018.
“Nigeria has the highest TB burden in Africa and one of the world’s widest gaps between estimated and reported cases. Nigeria is the 6th in a list of eight countries accounting for 66% of new cases globally as of 2018.
“Current TB incidence in Nigeria is 429.000 and total deaths in Nigeria as of the end of 2018 stands at 157,000; while current TB treatment coverage in Nigeria is a paltry 24% and estimated cases of drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) is 21,000,” the NTS said.
Despite this grim picture, the society said global efforts had saved millions of lives in Nigeria and globally. “That is why the NTS remains in the forefront, along with other national and international stakeholders, in the fight against the scourge.”
The group said the global theme of this year’s World TB Day is “It’s Time”, thus it is time to have a TB-free Nigeria and end TB. The countdown has begun. The urgency conveyed in this theme is to put pressure on global leaders to make good their commitments to stop TB as a public health problem.
“This will involve scaling up of access to preventive measures, diagnostic capabilities, effective treatment, building accountability, sufficient and sustainable financing (reducing dependency on donors) and promoting the end of stigmatisation and discrimination and ensuring rights-based and people-based TB response.”
According to the society, the 2020 World TB Day will be devoid of the usual fanfare and public displays in line with the exigencies of the day: social distancing and avoidance of public gathering.
“The NTS encourages all stakeholders, and in particular, NTS members in their various locations to restrict themselves to radio jingles, posters and handbills as a means of creating awareness of the need for all hands to be on deck to put an end to TB,” NTS said.