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FG committed to tackling TB in Nigeria

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By Abraham Adekunle

Nigeria ranks 5th highest tuberculosis-burdened nations in the world.

Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, reiterated on March 24, 2023, his commitment to work tirelessly with all stakeholders towards eradicating Tuberculosis (TB) in Nigeria. He lamented that there is a high burden of this disease in Nigeria, he also added that there is a significant gap in some critical aspects of Nigeria’s national response to the bacteria. He made this known at a ministerial press briefing in commemoration of the 2023 World Tuberculosis Day in Abuja.

The minister, who was represented by the Minister of State for Health, Ekumankama Joseph Nkama, revealed that Nigeria ranked fifth among the highest burdened nations in the world. “It is an important milestone in our efforts to end the epidemic, it is a deadly but curable disease.”  World TB Day is a global event commemorated annually on the 24th of March to raise public awareness on efforts made to prevent and treat the disease. It also affords the ministry an opportunity to assess progress towards achieving the End Tuberculosis strategy and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Nigeria is ranked 1st in Africa in terms of cases.

Ehanire said this is a global health problem that is affecting Nigeria. According to the 2022 World Health Organization Global Report, Nigeria is ranked sixth globally and first in Africa with an estimated 467,000 TB cases in 2021. Nigeria also ranks fifth in the world among countries with the highest burden of childhood cases. The country is equally one of the 10 countries in the world with a triple burden of drug-resistant variations and HIV-associated cases.

The minister said that the main factors responsible for this outbreak in the country are undernutrition, HIV, Diabetes mellitus, smoking and alcohol use. The age groups most affected are 15 to 44 years. He said the major challenge surrounding this bacteria is low public awareness, as only one out of every four Nigerians has adequate knowledge of TB. The minister stressed that the Nigerian government has prioritized ending tuberculosis in the country.

Nigeria has put in place some control interventions.

Based on the statistics, ending this epidemic is a top priority of the federal Government, as it is making efforts to ensure good health and well-being for all Nigerians as projected in SDG-3.  The Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) has, through the NTBLCP and with the support of the ministry’s committed and dependable partners, initiated a number of laudable TB control interventions. He said that the country has put n place a number of relevant policy documents to chart a strategic direction for the control of the infection.

“These include the National Guidelines for Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment, the National Strategic Plan (NSP-2021-2025), and the compendium of best practices among others,” he said. He further noted that the Nigerian government has adopted and is scaling up new global innovations in every sphere of the response to ensure improved access and “the efficiency of the interventions.” For instance, he said that the mobile digital x-ray with artificial intelligence for TB screening among key and Vulnerable Populations, is being strategically scaled up across the country. He said the GeneXpert equipment – a rapid molecular testing solution, has increased from 32 in 2012 to 503 in 2022.

Tuberculosis is air-borne and very deadly, killing 5% of latent infections.

This infectious disease which is usually caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) bacteria, generally affects the lungs but can also affect other body parts. Most infections show no symptoms, this is known as latent TB. Around ten percent of latent infections progress to active disease and if left untreated, half of those affected die. Typical symptoms of an active infection are chronic cough alongside bloodied mucus, fever, night sweats, and weight loss. The disease killed about 1.5 million people in 2020.


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