By Zayamu Hassan
In an effort to tackle Tuberculosis (TB), the Federal Government is currently establishing 5000 treatment centers across the country.
The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, disclosed this at a media briefing to commemorate the 2022 World TB Day in Abuja.
He further revealed that the government is currently installing 102 GeneXpert machines for TB testing in different parts of the country.
“Number of installed GeneXpert machines increased from 32 in 2012 to 405 in 2021; installation of additional 102 is currently on-going.
“TB treatment (Directly Observed Treatment Short-course) centres increased from 3931 in 2010 to 17,699 in both public and private facilities currently. The process for the establishment of additional 5,000 TB treatment centres is also ongoing.
“28 out of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) now have treatment centres for management of drug resistant-TB.
“All 36 states and the FCT have been capacitated to undertake community management of DR-TB,” the Minister said.
The Minister however, decried what he described as the high proportion of missing child Tuberculosis (TB) cases in Nigeria.
He lamented that the major challenge to Nigeria’s TB control effort has been low notification of child TB cases mainly due to capacity gaps among healthcare workers in diagnosing TB in childhood.
According to him: “Although we notified our highest number of child TB cases of 12,977 in 2021, the child TB proportion amongst the overall TB notification for the same year was 6% – far lower than the WHO benchmark of 12%. This implies a high proportion of missing child TB cases in Nigeria.
“Similarly, our Drug Resistant (DR-TB) response has equally not yielded the desired results. Barely 2,975 (14%) of the estimated 21,000 DR-TB cases were notified in 2021.
“Another disturbing trend is the low enrolment rate of diagnosed DR-TB patients on treatment.
“Only 2,197 (74%) of diagnosed DR-TB patients were enrolled on treatment in 2021. This is not encouraging as it is a far cry from our target of 100% enrolment for diagnosed DR-TB patients. These untreated DR-TB patients constitute a time bomb as they continuously spread DR-TB in our communities.
“TB preventive treatment (TPT) is also another concerning aspect of our TB response. In 2021, Nigeria achieved only 7% of its target for TPT amongst under-5 and above-5 years’ contacts of bacteriologically confirmed TB patients.”
Speaking the Country Representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Nigeria, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, called on the federal government to explore ways of sustaining the gains so far made in the fight against TB.
“Let me appreciate the Nigeria 2021 outstanding achievement of a 50 per cent increase in TB notification compared to that in 2020; despite the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic.
“Indeed, Nigeria is among only a few countries that registered increased TB case notification in 2021. This is also a notable milestone for the country with above 200,000 TB cases notified in a single year. We wish to congratulation to the Hon Minister for this notable achievement,” he said.
He explained that TB remained the top 10 causes of death worldwide and the leading cause of death from a single infectious agent with estimated 10 million people that had TB in 2020, with Nigeria and seven other countries accounting for two thirds of this global burden.