From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Federal Government, on Tuesday, neutralized the fears of Tuberculosis (TB) patients in which many of them believe that TB is a high way to untimely death.
The government maintained that the disease, though deadly but it’s curable if identified early and treatment commenced.
Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who allayed the fears at an event to commemorate the 2021 World TB Day in Abuja with the theme “the clock is ticking”, disclosed that Nigeria is ranked 1st in Africa and 6th globally in the 2020 World Health Organization (WHO) Global TB report, among the 30 high TB burden countries.
He added that Nigeria is also on the list of 14 countries with the triple burden of TB, HIV associated TB and multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, stating the main drivers of the TB burden in Nigeria are undernutrition, HIV, diabetes, smoking and alcohol use, with over 400,000 estimated TB cases recorded in 2019.
He disclosed that the working age group of Nigerians, 15-44 years, is most affected by TB morbidity and mortality, with over 150,000 estimated deaths in 2019.
He said: “Tackling TB is highly prioritised in Nigeria. In line with our effort to ensure good health and well-being for Nigerians as envisioned in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3, the Federal Ministry of Health through the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP) and with support of partners, has initiated number of interventions with some remarkable achievements.
“They include: to ensure continuity of TB services through provision of integrated TB and COVID-19 services especially for of awareness creation, contact tracing and diagnosis; Scale-up demand creation for TB services through regular airing of TB jingles in radio and television stations; Introduction of new diagnostic tools, shorter TPT regimen and all oral regimen for treatment of DR-TB; massively scale up TB service provision including TPT, in public and private facilities as well as in communities; among others.
The Minister said that community TB interventions are implemented through community-based organisations, while community contribution to national TB case notification rose to 22 per cent in 2019.
This, he said, was in order to promote community ownership of TB control and discourage stigmatisation of presumptive and confirmed TB patients.
“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.
“Consistent with the 2019 National HIV prevalence of 1.4 per cent from the Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS), the proportion of TB patients co-infected with HIV has dropped from 18 per cent in 2014 to 11 per cent in 2019. Furthermore, persons living with HIV (PLHIV) that had Isoniazid-based TB Preventive Therapy (TPT) increased from 15 per cent in 2014 to 73 per cent in 2019.
“All these efforts have led to steady increase in our annual TB case notification in the last four years with the country recording the highest-ever TB case notification of 120,266 TB cases in 2019; a 13 per cent rise from 2018. However, these over 120 thousand TB cases represents only 27 per cent of the estimated cases,” he said.