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Nigeria likely to face TB crisis – Health ministry

NIGERIA risks facing major tuberculosis crisis, according to Director and National Coordinator of the National Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Buruli Ulcer Control Programme at the Federal Ministry of Health Chukwuma Anyaike.

Anyaike, who spoke with our reporter over challenges posed by the disease, said the nation needed to do more to contain it.

He said despite having the highest cases of TB in Africa, the Nigerian government provided only seven per cent of funds needed to fight the condition.

He explained that the country had a deficit of 70 per cent of the funds required to fight the disease, and foreign donors often provided 23 per cent of the available funds.


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The growing number of drug-resistance TB cases in Nigeria also gave the government concern, Anyaike said.

Tuberculosis, otherwise known as TB, is a contagious infection that usually attacks the lungs.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says the disease is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis).

TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with lung TB cough sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air. A person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected. The condition is curable and preventable, the health agency noted.

Chukwuma said Nigeria was number one country in Africa and sixth globally with highest TB burden.

“Nigeria is among the countries with a triple burden in the sense that we have a high prevalence of TB. We have a high prevalence of TB/HIV morbidity and high prevalence of drug-resistant tuberculosis.”

He warned that though funds for fighting the disease were inadequate, missing cases of TB portended great danger to the nation.

According to him, Nigeria was projected to have 440,000 new cases of TB yearly. He said the government, working with its partners, was making efforts to look into the cases.

“Last year, even amid COVID-19, we were able to notify 138,591 new cases. That means that we have above 200,000 new cases missing. We have also seen that the number of drug-resistance TB cases is increasing.

“Suppose you go by the evidence that one case that was not detected has the capacity to infect 10 to 15 people in a year. That means Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gunpowder as far as tuberculosis is concerned. If you multiply 200,000 by that number, you will see what it will give you,” he said.

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He, therefore, called for more support from the government and well-meaning people in the country.

He also decried the low level of awareness of the disease among people in the country.

Only 27 per cent of Nigerians knew the seriousness of tuberculosis, he said.

Among the people mostly affected by the disease are persons with poor immunity, people in slums, those with HIV, people with poorly-managed diabetes mellitus, smokers and people with lung cancer.




     

     

    Anyaike said there were efforts to increase TB case identification across Nigeria.

    However, there is a huge setback for the government as only 40 per cent of local governments in the country have GeneXpert, the medical device used for diagnosing the ailment.

    There are 389 geneXperts in the country, which are very inadequate to serve over 200 million projected to be living in the nation.

    The Lancet, one of the world’s most renowned medical journals, says TB incidence rose in Nigeria from 418, 000 cases in 2017 to 429, 000 cases in 2018, and deaths also jumped from 155,000 to 157,000 within the same period, with treatment coverage for the disease stagnant at 24 per cent.

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    Marcus bears the light, and he beams it everywhere. He's a good governance and decent society advocate. He's The ICIR Reporter of the Year 2022 and has been the organisation's News Editor since September 2022. Contact him via email @ [email protected].

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