Tuberculosis: Nigeria Still Records 200,000 Cases Annually
Yesterday, the Federal Government said that despite the significant progress that has been made in the past 3 years in the fight against tuberculosis (TB), Nigeria still records 200,000 new infections annually.
While mentioning that these new cases have yet to be detected and enrolled for treatment, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, the Minister of Health, spoke at the launch of the Compendium of Tuberculosis Best Practices by the National Tuberculosis, Buruli Ulcer and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP) in Abuja, and emphasised the need for the government to step up in its commitment and invest strategically across the board in order to improve the best practices.
As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, the number of TB cases diagnosed and reported globally dropped by 18 per cent, from 7.1 million in 2019 to 5.8 million in 2020.
Dr. Ehanire then added that during the period, fatalities had a considerable increase due to reduced attention to the treatment of patients. Nigeria, he said, as with many other nations, have suffered the impact of COVID-19, with negative socioeconomic trends and health service disruptions immediately after the introduction of lockdowns in the second quarter of 2020.
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The minister pointed out that TB testing was reduced by 30 percent, which resulted in a 17 percent decrease in the finding and notification of new cases. Nonetheless, he acknowledged that the implementation of innovative strategic interventions, including the integration of TB control into the COVID-19 response measures, led to an increase of 15 percent in TB detections, from 120,266 cases in 2019 to 138,591 cases in 2020.
Dr. Ehanire pointed out that this development made Nigeria one of the few countries in the world to record an increase in TB case notification during the pandemic.
Ayodele Iroko, the Deputy Chief of Party for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded LON 3 Project, remarked that the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) “is breaking through in Lagos and with the state Ministry of Education. IHVN has raised a workforce to find missing TB cases in schools, and is also integrating TB messages in churches and mosques through religious leaders.”
In addition to recruiting non-healthcare providers, she said, the institute aimed to build support and reduce stigma for a strong response across the country by locating undetected infections and treating them.