By Abujah Racheal
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says Nigeria recorded 15 per cent increase in Tuberculosis (TB) case notifications in 2020 compared with the previous year.
despite the effect of the COVID19 pandemic on the TB Control Program.
The WHO Representative in Nigeria, Dr Walter Mulombo, made this known at the launch of Unified TB Campaign and the ACSM Guideline to commemorate the 2021 World Tuberculosis Day on Tuesday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports that the day, celebrated annually on March 24, is to create awareness about the devastating health and economic impact of tuberculosis.
It also aims to accelerate efforts to end the global TB epidemic.
The theme for the 2021 celebration is “clock is ticking to end tuberculosis in Nigeria, with “that cough fit be tuberculosis, not
COVID, check am oh”, as its slogan.
Mulombo disclosed that TB was one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide and the leading cause of death from a single infectious agent, ranking above HIV/AIDS.
He added that “globally, there was an estimated 10 million people with TB in 2019, with Nigeria and seven other countries accounting for two third of the global total.
“However, low TB case detection remains a major challenge in the TB control efforts in Nigeria, with the country only detecting 27 per cent of the estimated cases.
“The undetected TB cases can further constitute a pool of reservoir that can fuel transmission in communities, as one undetected infectious TB case is able to infect between 12 and 15 people per year,” he explained.
According to the WHO representative, Nigeria at the UN High Level Meeting (UNHLM) on TB in 2018 made a commitment to diagnose and treat over 1.1 million cases and place about 2.2 million clients on TB Preventive Therapy (TPT) from 2018 to 2022.
He noted that Nigeria was, however, far from achieving the target and that TB control budgets had continued to be underfunded.
“About 70 per cent of the TB budget in 2020 was unfunded, this is a major threat to efforts in achieving the set targets.
“Too many people are pushed into poverty when they contract TB due to reduced income, transport cost and other expenses.”
Molumbo said that the theme for this year’s World TB Day — The Clock is Ticking — was therefore a wake-up call for the country to accelerate TB response to reach the set target in the 2021-2025 National TB Strategic Plan.
He stressed the need to put more efforts toward realising the commitments made at the first-ever UN High Level Meeting on TB in 2018.
He said “collective action across sectors is crucial to address the challenges and accelerate progress toward ending TB in Nigeria by 2030. Determinants of health such as poverty, undernutrition, tobacco smoking and co-morbidities such as HIV continue to drive the TB epidemic.
“This is why WHO developed the multisectoral accountability framework and supporting all countries to update their TB policies and to implement WHO guidelines.”
He noted that the WHO would continue to support Nigeria in developing and implementing guidelines, plans, framework and strategic documents to end TB epidemic in the country.
“In addition, we will facilitate researches to provide evidence-based interventions and innovations.
“The WHO is currently working with the programme in data analysis toward formulating evidence-based policies for enhancing programme performance at all levels. We will continue to support this and monitor programmes in real-time to identify challenges and advise on how to address the challenges.
“The organisation, in collaboration with partners, will also step-up action in supporting Federal Ministry of Health to mobilise
the needed domestic and international resources required for ending TB in Nigeria.”
The WHO representative explained that “tuberculosis is curable; I implore anyone coughing for two weeks or more to go for TB test at the nearest health facility. Together, we can end the epidemic.” (NAN)