TB kills 18 people

TB kills at least 18 people every hour in Nigeria

The Federal Government says 207,000 missing cases of Tuberculosis (TB) were identified in 2021, a marked 50% increase from the 138,000 figure of 2020

According to data from Stop TB Partnership Nigeria, Nigeria is among the 30 high burden countries for TB, TB/HIV and Multiple Drug Resistant TB – MDR-TB; It is ranked 6th among the 30 high TB burden countries globally and 1st in Africa; and accounts for 11% of the global gap between TB incidence and notified cases.

The data further revealed that only 6% of all forms of notified TB cases in 2021 are children less than 15 years; and of the estimated 21,000 Drug Resistant TB cases recorded in 2020, only 2,061 were diagnosed and 72% of them enrolled on second line treatment.

Meanwhile, DOTs clinic is only available in 44% of health facilities in Nigeria and only 9% of them have TB diagnostic services; even as an estimated 18 people die every one hour from TB-related diseases – equivalent to 24 eighteen seater buses full of people perishing every day.

This is the first time Nigeria is meeting the 200,000 target for the number of missing TB cases to be found each year.

The National Coordinator, National Tuberculosis, Buruli Ulcer and Leprosy Control Programme, NTBLCP, Dr. Chukwuma Anyaike who stated this at the 2022 Pre-World TB Day Press Conference in Abuja, said despite the remarkable improvement there is still a 245,000 missing cases to meet the target.

Anyaike explained that the fight to end TB in Nigeria is confronted by a number of challenges among which are poor awareness with only 25% of Nigerians have the true knowledge of TB; Stigma against patients and those cured; expansion of diagnostic platforms; case holding; funding gap; and strong leadership.

While urging stakeholders to recommit to supporting the fight against TB, NTBLCP Coordinator, Dr. Chukwuma Anyaike revealed that the priority of government is to have a national and sub-national prevalence survey to account for the true extent of the burden of TB in Nigeria.

Anyaike further expressed worry that Drug Resistant cases are on the rise and cases among children are also rising.

“The survey that was done a decade ago gave us the data that on yearly basis we have not less than 440,000 new tuberculosis cases in the country. Last year, we were able to get at least, almost half of the cases even with 40% diagnostic coverage.

“But we need to find a way to know what we are chasing. We can only end tuberculosis if you know the actual burden and what we are chasing.

“I want to use this platform to remind us that the priority of the Programme and of the Government is to have a national and sub-national prevalence survey on tuberculosis. The will help us to know the actual burden in states, local government and have a targeted intervention.”

Ag. Board Chair, Stop TB Partnership Nigeria, Dr. Queen Ogbuji delivered the opening remark where she noted that the theme for this year’s celebration, “Invest to End TB – Save Lives” and the slogan for Nigeria “Give More, Do More, End TB Now”, underscore the urgent need to harness resources to end the disease.

“The Stop TB Partnership and all partners are calling on all those involved in the fight against TB to unite under this overarching theme and sound the alarm that the low levels of funding for the TB response year after year cannot continue nor be accepted anymore.

“Globally, of the US$15 billion annual funding for TB promised by the world leaders at the UNHLM in 2018, less than half has been delivered. And in Nigeria, of the $373 million needed for TB control in Nigeria in 2020, only 31% was available to all implementers of TB control activities in Nigeria (7% domestic and 24% donor funds), with 69% funding gap. World leaders including government at the national and sub-national levels must step up and triple or quadruple the funding to save lives and end TB by 2030.”

Also speaking, Executive Director, KNCV TB Foundation Nigeria, Dr. Berthrand Odume who commended the role of the media in giving light to TB in Nigeria, lamented the poor financial commitment by stakeholders.

“There is 70% gap in funding for TB and I will equally like to tell you that there is equally 70% gap in TB case finding. What does that show? The more resources you have, the more you will be able to find the missing cases.

Now the priority has shifted to Gene-Xpert and molecular diagnostic technology – These need money. The cartridge comes with money and now we have set target to have these instruments across all local governments but as at date, we have just 40%. This means that we need resources to ensure that we improve diagnostic access.

Representatives from the World Health Organisation and US Agency for International Development USAID, reaffirmed their commitment to supporting Nigeria in the fight to end TB.

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