…..as 70 percent of Nigerians are still ignorant about TB
As Nigeria joins the global community to commemorate the 2020 World Tuberculosis (TB) Day, stakeholders in the health sector are set to intensify efforts to ensure that Nigeria joins the league of countries like India and Indonesia, that are TB free by 2030.
The National Coordinator of the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP), Dr. Adebola Lawanson, while speaking in Abuja on Tuesday at a press briefing to commemorate the 2020 World Tuberculosis (TB) day, explained that the essence of the event is to bring into the consciousness of the public the havoc being wrecked by the disease called Tuberculosis.
Dr. Lawanson noted that, “TB is a major public health problem in Nigeria. According to the 2019 Global TB report, Nigeria is ranked 1st in Africa and 6th globally amongst the 30 high TB burden countries and also among the 14 countries in the world with the triple high burden of TB, HIV associated TB and Drug resistant TB (DR-TB). Also, every hour 18 Nigerians die of TB, which is a disease that is preventable and curable.
“There is therefore, the need to scale up the level of awareness of TB among Nigerians, as only about 30 percent of Nigerians are aware of TB control and preventive methods.
Speaking on the theme, – ‘It is time to end TB in Nigeria,’ Dr. Lawanson said it was carefully chosen and all efforts are directed towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of ending TB by 2030 Thus more still needs to be done to raise the level of awareness and information about the disease as 70 percent of Nigerians are still ignorant about TB”.
“WHO, in line with the SDGs, set a target of the 2030 to end the TB epidemic. In order to accelerate towards this goal, there have been a lot of controlled efforts that have been put in place.
“We have just 10 years towards the end of 2030, so a lot still needs to be done. And the slogan for this year is ‘check that cough, time no dey’”.
Also speaking at the event, yhe Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, in his address, said that Nigeria is among the few countries to commence the use of child-friendly medicines for drug resistant DR-TB after development.
According to him, “In line with the END TB strategy, the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) with the support of partners has made some strides in the fight against TB in Nigeria. We have adopted new rapid diagnostic tools as well as child-friendly medicines for drug susceptible and drug resistant TB (DR-TB).
“It is noteworthy that Nigeria is among the few countries in the world that immediately commenced use of child-friendly medicines for DR-TB after development.
“With regards to access, we have been able to expand diagnostic and treatment services for TB across the country by increasing the number TB microscopic centres and Gene Xpert machines from 32 in 2012 to 399 in 2020, as well as expansion of TB services to l2,254 health facilities (DOTS centers) in both private and public facilities in the country for Drug Susceptible TB.
“In addition, we have included TB services in the PHC minimum health care package to ensure the achievement of the universal access to care”.
Representing the minister, the Director of Public Health, Dr. Eno Obong, however added that: “There are 28 specialized DR-TB treatment centers across the country. Community DR-TB services are also provided in all the 36 states and FCT to enhance access to DR-TB treatment, care and support. TB preventive services and other diagnostic services are provided free of charge in these health facilities.
“Since 2008 till date, over a million Nigerians have been successfully treated for TB. We have also recorded good case holding as evidenced by a treatment success rate (TSR) consistently above 80 percent for the past 5 years. We are intensifying efforts to ensure Universal Health Coverage with TB services.
“Our efforts in the area of TB/HIV collaboration has yielded good results with annual proportion of TB patients tested for HIV consistently over 94 percent in the last 5 years. Similarly, the proportion of TB patients co-infected with HIV has dropped from 18 percent in 2014 to 12 percent in 2018. This is consistent with the report of our recently conducted National HlV/AIDS impact Indicator Survey (NAIIS).
Our engagement with the private sector in the provision of Gene Xpert and other TB services has yielded positive results, with the private sector having one of the best diagnostic centers in the country.
“The private sector is also contributing about 13 percent of the TB cases notified in the country. We are also scaling up expansion of TB services in private facilities in oil 36 states and the FCT in line with our robust public-private mix DOTS (PPM-DOTS) plan.
“In 2019, Nigeria notified a total of 120,266 TB cases. This is only 28 percent of the estimated TB cases of 429,000 for the country in the same year. This huge gap in TB case finding is much higher among children (aged 0-14years) with a child proportion of 8 percent for 2019. In the last ten years, the country has implemented various interventions to address the challenge of low case finding”.
The Country Representative of KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation, Dr. Bethrand Odume, in his remarks said: “Studies and country reviews show that less than 30 percent of the population actually have good knowledge and information about TB. Therefore, we really need to increase awareness.
“Another issue with tackling TB in the country is the gap in funding. Obviously, out of the $278 million needed to control TB in Nigeria as at last year, only 40 percent was actually made available and large chunk of that funding is coming from international agencies, USAID and Global Funds. So a lot still needs to be done to bridge this gap.
“We hope that with collaborative efforts of the federal ministry of health departments, partners, those that are affected, and civil society organizations, we will be able to join countries like India and Indonesia in closing the enormous gap in TB burden in Nigeria”, he said.