By Iyemah David
Nigeria remains among the high burden countries for Tuberculosis (TB) globally, the National Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Buruli Ulcer Control Programme (NTBLCP) has said.
Dr Chukwuma Anyaike, National Coordinator, NTBLCP, made this known while speaking on activities lined up for the World Tuberculosis Day 2023 with theme: “Yes! We can end TB.”
The world TB Day is celebrated every year on March 24 to inspire hope and encourage high-level leadership, increased investments, faster uptake of new WHO recommendations, adoption of innovations, accelerated action and multisectoral collaboration to combat the TB epidemic.
Dr Anyaike said there is need for continuous awareness towards putting an end to preventable and curable diseases like tuberculosis and to address the needles deaths and infirmities in the country.
TB, he said, remains a huge burden in the country which can be prevented, diagnosed, treated and cured.
Anyaike called on media practitioners to extend the word ‘TB’ to ‘tuberculosis’, noting that most Nigerians were unaware of the enormous burden of the disease and its symptoms.
Also speaking, Dr Bethrand Odume Executive Director, KNCV Nigeria, said:” teachers play a crucial role in educating the community about Tuberculosis and its prevention.
“We plan to organise training sessions for teachers in schools to increase their knowledge about Tuberculosis and to help them educate their students,” he said.
Odume, who is also the Chairperson of the 2023 National World Tuberculosis Day Planning Committee, said that there would be a Road Show; Taking off from the Wuse Market on March 22.
The chairperson also said campaigns are being planned for the six area councils to increase the awareness of the public about Tuberculosis, promote early diagnosis, and encourage people to seek treatment.
A Ministerial news conference, the chairperson said, will be held March 24.
He said that similar activities would also be supported across the 36 states of the federation.
“This year, in the 36 states and FCT, the Tuberculosis Programme working with the implementing partners will be supporting a special TB Testing week” to drive daily community active TB case-finding activities.
“By working together, we can make progress in the fight against tuberculosis and help to create a Nigeria free of Tuberculosis,” he said.
TB, a disease caused by a bacterium, often affects the lungs and is identified as the number one infectious killer disease in the world and also among the top 10 causes of death worldwide.
It is spread from person to person through the air. When people with TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air.
A person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected.
Estimates by the World Health Organisation (WHO) showed TB killed 156,000 Nigerians and afflicted 452,000 in 2020.
WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said: “TB is preventable and treatable, and millions of lives have been saved.
“Africa has so far made good progress against tuberculosis and we cannot afford to lose focus on what is needed to ease the burden and save lives.”
The African region is home to 17 of the 30 high-burden TB countries globally.
The estimated 2.5 million cases in the region in 2020 accounted for a quarter of the global burden, with more than half a million African lives sadly lost to this curable and preventable disease.
Under the WHO End TB Strategy, countries should aim to reduce TB cases by 80 per cent and cut deaths by 90 per cent by 2030 compared with 2015. The strategy also sets key milestones that countries should cross by 2020 and 2025 if they are to end the disease.
The 2025 milestone seeks a 50 per cent reduction in cases and a 75 per cent decline in deaths. TB cases should drop by 10 per cent every year to meet the 2025 target, yet the current rate of decline in cases stands at two per cent. From 2025 to 2030 countries should reduce cases by 17 per cent every year.