By Doosuur Iwambe
Says, one case of untreated TB can affect over 15 people in one year
Stakeholders in the nation’s health sector have expressed worry over the 302,467 cases of missing tuberculosis in Nigeria.
The stakeholders while stressing the need for immediate action said that one untreated case of TB can infect more than 15 people within one year.
Speaking during a virtual TB media roundtable organised by the Stop TB Partnership Nigeria, Head of the Advocacy, Communication and Social Mobilisation (ACSM) unit of the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Program, Mrs. Utohowo Uko, said, there was need to create more awareness on TB among the general populace and health workers.
Quoting the 2019 Global Report, Mrs Uko described as unfortunate that out of the 409,000 TB cases, 302,467 are expected to be identified.
She said, “TB is one of the top ten causes of deaths worldwide, yet, the knowledge about TB is very low.
As a programme, in 2019 we were only able to identify 26 percent of the estimated TB cases in Nigeria, and we were able to put them on treatment.
“What that means is that we still have well over 74 percent of the estimated cases that are still in the community.
And we know that one case of untreated TB can actually affect 15 more people within one year”.
She further revealed that Tuberculosis killing more Nigerians daily than COVID-19.
According to her, the 26 percent notification that was made in 2018, that is, the global report of 2019 showed that Nigeria was able to identify, isolate, and place on treatment 106,533 patients.
“We all know that TB patients often go to multiple places to seek help.
But in most cases, they end up not getting the correct diagnosis or being referred to the appropriate quarters where they can have their cases being handled appropriately.
“People sometimes prefer to take traditional herbs rather than seeking the proper treatment early at the right facility.
This most of the time results in drug resistant TB, which is more difficult to handle”, she added.
While stressing the need to raise more awareness, she added that stigmatisation and discrimination has actually placed down on the success of the programme in the country.
She added that some health workers are also reluctant to handle samples for TB testing because of the similarities in the symptoms of TB and COVID-19.
“Some of our GeneXpert machines being used in states for COVID-19 has reduced the number of TB samples that can actually be tested in those states”.
Earlier, Chairman of the Board of Stop TB Partnership Nigeria, Dr. Ayodele Awe, “Nigeria has the highest tuberculosis burden in Africa and we are about 4th or 5th in the whole world after India, Pakistan, and Indonesia.
He said that TB, public information and general health worker information is still very low adding that a survey they did some years back revealed that only 27percent of health workers know the cause of TB.
The Head of Risk Control of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Yahaya Disu, in his remarks said, “Health providers must take advantage of the attention on health at this period by policy makers to strengthen the system.