Tuberculosis/ Katsina TB lives
Tuberculosis claims the lives of 500,000 Nigerians on a yearly basis making it the 2nd deadliest disease in the world.

TB Experts Urge For Increased Efforts In Finding Missing Cases

Tuberculosis (TB) experts in Nigeria are urging for an increased effort in finding the 40% missing cases, saying that this issue could wreak havoc if neglected.

This was disclosed at this year’s pre-world TB Day press conference, organised by the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP) and Stop TB Partnership in Abuja, with the theme:”Yes! We can end TB” and the slogan, “Get involved”.

The National Coordinator of the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP) Federal Ministry of Health in Nigeria, Dr Chukwuma Anyaike said we need to change the narrative and strategy. At the National Programme, with support from partners we have put in some measures to increase our case notification and also increase our momentum towards identifying tuberculosis among children.

” Of the 285,000 missing cases we were able to identify last year, only 6% of them are children and so we need to do more to save the lives of our children and the future of Nigeria. If you go by the statistics, TB affects people mostly at their active age, young adults male and female and so, if we allow that trend this country will be doomed.

“I strongly believe that we should also appraise ourselves and showcase the achievements we made. In the midst of the struggle, Nigeria has relatively done well if you look at where we started and where we are now. At the end of 2022, we were able to notify above 285,000 missing cases in Nigeria and that is 60 % of the missing cases.

“It’s a huge milestone but we have not gotten there. We were able to do that by shared cooperation and commitment by various stakeholders. I remembered that we were here last year for the same purpose and we have not achieved 60% this time last year . We still have a lot to do.

“The remaining 40% in the population of above 200 million people. By statistics, if we are supposed to have 467,000 new cases of TB every year and we are able to identify 285,000 that means 60% of the remaining 40% is still causing havoc in the communities. If you can do the arithmetic, the remaining 40% multiply it by 15, you will notice that we still have a lot to do. It increases by geometric progression snowballing and affecting others. You will ask me where are these people they are with us in the communities and the worrisome aspect is that our children are down with TB”, he said.

Similarly, the World Health Organisation (WHO), Country Representative, Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo who was represented at the occasion by the WHO National Professional Officer Tuberculosis Dr. Enang Oyama said the country still has over 170,000 missing tuberculosis cases, they warned that if nothing is done to find the cases and place them on treatment, they could further fuel the transmission of TB across the country.

He, however, assured the country of WHO’s support in ending the disease, saying: “Nigeria has made progress in case of notification in the last five years from over 207,785 in 2021 to over 285,000, representing a 37 percent increase.

Read Also: Tuberculosis: Breakthrough Action Appeals Govts To Increase Health Sector Funding

“Sadly, we still have 171,159 missing TB cases. This large number are reservoirs that fuel transmission in the community. One person can infect between 12 to 15 people a year. Also, HIV and Drug Resistant TB further complicates the reduction of TB in Nigeria.

“TB control projects are drastically underfunded. Sixty-nine percent of TB projects in 2021 were unfunded. This is a major setback, as many are pushed into poverty when they contract TB due to catastrophic costs. There is a need to increase funding for TB.”

Also, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has urged the governments to increase efforts to find missing tuberculosis (TB) cases in the country, while pledging technical assistance.

The Executive Director of KNCV Nigeria and Chair 2023 National World TB Day planning Committee, Dr. Bethrand Odume said over the years, “we have seen a decrease in TB prevalence, with advancements in diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. However, despite the progress made, Tuberculosis remains a significant global health challenge. It is the world’s deadliest infectious disease and must be tackled with utmost urgency and responsibility.”

He added that, this we can achieve through government, communities, and stakeholder buy-in. We need more education on TB, more importantly, the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.

Working with the media, the program can make progress in educating the public on the impact of this deadly disease as well as current efforts by the Government, the USAID, GF and other partners in addressing the scourge of the disease in Nigeria.

In her welcome address, AG, Board Chair, Stop TB Partnership Nigeria, Dr. Queen Ogbuji-Ladipo called for consolidated efforts until we achieve Nigeria free of TB.

She added that we are going to advocate for more political commitment and domestic resource support for TB control in Nigeria.

Joyce Seember, a Tuberculosis survivor said the disease is deadly but also curable. “I have experienced the pains and discomfort that comes with TB and religiously for six months I had my treatment and today, I am TB-free.”

Advocacy is the only way to fight Tuberculosis, everyone should get involved in advocacy, especially in rural communities where there is the highest population of people living with the disease because of their lifestyles which can be a catalyst to the spread of TB.

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