Fred Itua, Abuja
A non-governmental organisation based in the nation’s capital, Helpline Foundation for the Needy, has called on Nigerians not to stigmatise patients with tuberculosis, as the disease remains a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in developing countries.
The group also tasked relevant authorities to step up efforts to end the global TB epidemic and advocated for early diagnosis, treatment and palliative care.
Making the call in Abuja during a press conference to mark the 2020 World TB Day, the president and founder of Helpline Foundation for the Needy, Dr. Jumai Ahmadu, noted that TB remains the world’s deadliest infectious killer, adding that each day, over 4000 people lose their lives to TB and close to 30,000 people fall ill with this preventable and curable disease.
Ahmadu revealed that in developing countries, TB accounts for 7 percent of all deaths which is the most common cause of death from a single source of infection among adults, stressing that statistics indicate that children constitute about 10 percent of all new cases in high-burden areas.
Commenting on the 2020 theme: “It’s time”, Ahmadu described the theme as apt, stressing that the battle against TB require collective responsibility of both government and personal commitment.
“Each year, we commemorate World Tuberculosis (TB) Day on March 24 to raise public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of TB, and to step up efforts to end the global TB epidemic.
“In this race to combat a disease that knows no boundaries, it is necessary to have a conceptual and clear understanding of TB overall with the hope of providing better treatment through novel and collaborative research and public health efforts.
“World TB Day aims to save millions of preventable deaths each year by raising awareness about TB, and pushing governments and individuals across the globe to take action against the disease as in the case with the COVID-19.
“We at Helpline Foundation for the Needy are disturbed because according to the World Health Organization (WHO), if the incidence of TB continues to grow at the reported cases, the number of deaths worldwide from TB will increase to more than 10.1 million by 2030.
“It has been observed that the association between poverty and TB is well-recognized, and the highest rates of TB were found in the poorest section of the community. TB occurs more frequently among low-income people living in overcrowded areas and persons with little schooling,” she affirmed.
She used the occasion to call for early diagnosis, treatment and palliative care, noting that an estimated 40 per cent of deaths from TB are preventable if awareness and early treatment was intensified.
Ahmadu expressed concerns over the global statistics that shows that more than 70 per cent of deaths from TB, occurs in economically less developed countries, while calling on developing countries to design mechanisms for drawing attention to TB prevention and treatment in their respective states.