Experts raise alarm over Nigeria TB burden
How persistent is that cough? If it is more than two weeks, you are advised to visit the hospital for a check-up, for it may be Tuberculosis, TB. As it is estimated that two out of every 1,000 Nigerians will have TB.
According to the World Health Organization, WHO, in its recent 2017 global report, says that TB is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide and Nigeria is classified among the 14 countries with high burden of Tuberculosis.
WHO reports that Nigeria has the sixth highest burden of TB patients globally and first in Africa.
The reports says 104,904 TB patients notified to the authorities in 2017, 63 percent were aged between 15 and 44; the working age group is the most affected.
The WHO report also states that of the 104,904 patients in 2017, about 20 percent of existing patients’ represents the number. Which means that there is a huge number of TB patients in communities that are not notified.
To this end, 18 Nigerians die hourly from Tuberculosis as one case of untreated TB can infect 10 to 15 persons per year.
At an integrated media parley organised by Breakthrough Action -Nigeria in collaboration with the Health Writers Association of Nigeria, HEWAN, in Lagos, the Deputy Director of, National Tuberculosis, Burulli Ulcer and Leprosy Control Programme, NTBLCP, in the Federal Ministry of Health, Mrs Itohowo Uko, described tuberculosis as an airborne infectious disease caused by the germ, Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, which affects the lungs mainly but may affect any other part of the body
She said "the goal is to reduce 50 percent of TB Prevalence rate and 75 percent of TB mortality rate (excluding HIV) in Nigeria by 2025."
She lamented that the statistics by WHO is scary as there is urgent need for all stakeholders to show concern to ensure a Nigeria free TB, reduce burden, as well as reach zero TB deaths.
Speaking on the dynamics of TB, Uko said that TB is spread through the air when the person with TB of the lungs coughs, sneezes, sings or talks.
According to her, TB is curable and the patient is not termed as infectious after few weeks of treatment, "persistent cough of two weeks or more duration may be due to TB and needs to be further investigated."
Uko said that there signs of TB of the lungs which includes; loss of weight especially when one is not trying to lose weight, drenching night sweats when others close by are not sweating like that and loss of appetite.
She however advised the public to avoid overcrowded and poorly ventilated environments, observe cough hygiene by covering their mouths properly when coughing and sneezing as she stressed the need to stop spitting indiscriminately in public, as well as eating a balanced diet to avoid malnutrition.
Calling for prompt diagnosis of TB in patients, she however recommended treatment for six months to prevent spreading the germ to others.
Uko said TB is completely curable if detected and treated early, adding that the drugs and diagnostic tests are free of charge in Nigeria.
Challenges of TB in Nigeria, she said includes; low TB case funding, low TB treatment coverage, low awareness of TB and its services among the general population, dwindling donor funding and inadequate government funding at all levels.
Uko stressed the need for adequate funding for TB control activities which includes the private sector.
She called on the media to engage with professional bodies to promote the implementation of existing g policies on production and equitable distribution of human resources in the health sector, even as she encouraged the media to become TB advocates, speak openly and encourage others to to contribute towards ending TB.
Making her contribution, Dr Bolatito Aiyenigba, Deputy Director, Malaria and Tuberculosis Project of Breakthrough Action-Nigeria, said the project focused on Integrated Health Social Behaviour Change in the country.
Aiyenigba said "health is a general concern and the media has a role to play in educating and informing the public on the need to adopt healthy lifestyles and reduce the high prevalence of diseases in the country".
She said that the Breakthrough project had helped to build media capacity in the reportage of malaria, family planning, nutrition and tuberculosis.