By Muhammad Auwal
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and Stop TB Partnership, an NGO, have expressed the determination to collaborate with stakeholders to eradicate Tuberculosis (TB) in the country.
Dr Ayodele Awe, representative of WHO Country Representative in Nigeria, made this known during the National TB Conference in Abuja.
The conference has a theme as ‘’Building stronger partnership to end TB in Nigeria’’.
He noted that from the prevalence survey conducted in the country it was discovered that 75 per cent of the cases were in rural communities and most of them did not know that they have TB.
“Any person coughing for two weeks or more could have TB, that person should get tested,’’ said the WHO official.
He said Nigeria was one of the countries that do not publicise its TB control activities and research despite huge investment by government and partners in the fight against TB.
He therefore commended Stop TB Partnership Nigeria for partnering with key stakeholders in the fight against TB.
Awe said WHO has associated with theme of the conference which is building stronger partnership to end TB in Nigeria.
He therefore advocated for the creation of quarterly journal to show-case success stories in the fight against TB in the country.
Similarly, Dr Lucica Ditiu, the Executive Director, Stop TB Partnership Geneva, said TB problem in Nigeria was the biggest problem in Africa which was also a high problem in the world.
She added that there was a need to detect, diagnose and treat large number of TB cases in Nigeria, adding that there is also a large number of people with drug resistant and multi-drug resistant TB in Nigeria.
She lamented that about 30 per cent of TB cases in the country was detected.
Ditiu said a single undetected TB patient might infect at least 10 to 15 people annually, stressing that it is a serious problem to address “unless we contain it the figure will keep growing.’’
She said people need to know about this problem, because whoever is alive and is breathing is at risk.
Mr Abdullahi Mashi, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, said Low TB case finding for adult and children was one of the factors militating against TB control efforts.
Mashi, who was represented by the Director Public Health of the ministry, Dr Evelyn Ngige, said TB remains one of the major public health challenges in the country.
“For 2018, only 25 per cent of the estimated TB cases for both adult and children were notified by the country leaving almost over 300,000 TB cases undiagnosed.
“Only 20 per cent of the childhood TB cases were notified leaving over 30,000 TB cases in children undiagnosed,’’ he said.
However, Mashi said the ministry through the National Tuberculosis Leprosy and Bruli Ulcer Control Programme has established the National Leprosy Training Centre, Zaria, to undertake human resource development for TB control.
“The ministry has expanded TB diagnosis and treatment services across the country and improved TB microscopic centres nationwide to 2,856.
“It also installed 384 gene Xpert machines; established 9,685 TB treatment DOT centres nationwide and 10 TB reference laboratories across Nigeria,’’ he said.
The permanent secretary also noted that patient treatment success rate for TB has been above 80 per cent consistently for the past five years.