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157,000 Nigerians died from tuberculosis in 2018, report reveals

Second highest deaths recorded globally

NIGERIA has the second-highest estimated deaths caused by tuberculosis in 2018, where a total of 157,000 citizens lost their lives to the disease.

The deaths burden is revealed in the 2019 Global Tuberculosis Report published by the World Health Organisation on Thursday.

The 297-page-report indicated that 1.5 million people died from TB in 2018. Breaking it down to regional levels, the South East Asia region had the highest number of deaths with 659,000, followed by the African region of 608,000 deaths. The Western Pacific, Eastern Mediterranean and European regions recorded 97,000, 79,000 and 27,000 deaths respectively.

India had the highest number of deaths from tuberculosis estimated at 440,000 people; Nigeria followed India with about 157,000 of deaths; Indonesia,  98,000.

With 157,000 deaths, it means, not less than 430 Nigerians die every day from tuberculosis in 2018.

Infographics credit: Rebecca Akinremi/ICIR

The report also showed that Nigeria had a total of 429,000 tuberculosis cases in 2018, a figure that indicated there was an increase in the disease’s burden when compared to the 2017 figure. In 2017, the total TB estimate for the country was 412,000.

So, Nigeria still secures the sixth position among countries with a high burden of the disease. It is the first in Africa. The five countries leading Nigeria are India with 2.6 million, China with 866,000, Indonesia with 845,000, Philippines with 591,000 and Pakistan with 526,000 cases.

South Africa and Bangladesh had recorded tuberculosis cases of 357,000 and 301,000 respectively, thereby following Nigeria as the seventh and eighth countries with a high burden of the disease. 

The report stated that faster reductions in TB incidence and deaths “require improvements in access to diagnosis and care”.

It also indicated that action on broader determinants of the tuberculosis incidence could also address the disease. The factors associated with risk of TB include levels of undernutrition, poverty, smoking, HIV prevalence, diabetes and alcohol consumption.

“TB disease is much higher among people infected with HIV; it is also higher among people affected by risk factors such as undernutrition, diabetes, smoking and alcohol consumption,” report noted.

“A recent modelling study also shows how poverty is an important underlying driver of national TB epidemics, and that eliminating extreme poverty and providing social protection (both targets under SDG 1) could substantially reduce TB incidence,” it added.

Infographics credit: Rebecca Akinremi/ICIR

Another problem the report identified to be affecting Nigeria is under-reporting of cases.

It stated that 12 per cent of three million missing cases of tuberculosis globally is from Nigeria. This means that 360,000 people that developed tuberculosis in 2018 in the country missed out of lifesaving treatment.

“Despite increases in TB notifications, there is still a large gap between the number of new cases reported
(7.0 million) and the estimated 10.0 million (range, 9.0– 11.1 million) incident cases in 2018.

“The Ten countries accounted for about 80 per cent of the gap, with India (25%), Nigeria (12%), Indonesia  (10%) and the Philippines (8%) accounting for more than half of the total,” it revealed.

Referring to the four countries- Nigeria, Indonesia, India and Philippines-, the reports noted that intensified efforts are required to improve reporting of detected TB cases and access to diagnosis and treatment.

The National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP) during the 2019 World Tuberculosis Day, stated that the low number of people being treated in Nigeria was partly due to poor knowledge about TB and the low treatment coverage.

Between 2014 and 2017, Nigeria secured a total of $330 million (about N119.5 billion at $362 rate) to finance the fight against the disease.

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