As Nigeria joined the world to celebrate the 2019 World Tuberculosis (TB) Day on Sunday March 24, Development Communication Network (DevComs) has called on all Nigerians to protect their family members from the menace of the highly infectious disease.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), TB kills 18 Nigerians every hour and 4,500 people globally every day. The theme for this year’s World Tuberculosis Day is: “It’s Time”. The World TB Day has been described as an opportunity to raise more awareness among people on the need to end a curable illness.
It is estimated that 407,000 people in Nigeria have TB each year. This is the estimated number of HIV negative people that have the disease. In addition, there are an estimated 63,000 HIV positive people that get TB each year. An estimated 115,000 HIV negative people die from TB in Nigeria each year and an estimated 39,000 HIV positive people also die. It is difficult to appreciate what it means for 154,000 people to be dying each year.
DevComs Programme Director, Akin Jimoh, stated that all Nigerians need to be concerned about the missing cases of TB and “we must all be in the forefront to find and treat TB cases” in the country.
“We did it for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and now the cases are on the downward spiral. We need to help ourselves to find and treat TB,” he added.
National Coordinator, National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme Department of Public Health, Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja, Dr. Adebola Lawanson, said that as part of the bold step in finding the missing TB cases in the country, the Federal Ministry of Health with support from partners is rapidly expanding TB diagnostics and treatment services to more sites across the country.
According to the 2017 Global TB Report, Nigeria is among the 14 high burden countries for TB, TB/HIV and MDR-TB, ranking 7th among the 30 high TB burden countries and 2nd in Africa. Forty-seven Nigerians develop active TB, seven of which are children, every hour. One of the major challenges of TB response in Nigeria is attributed to low TB case finding both in adult and children. This is attributed partly to poor knowledge about TB that influence the health seeking behaviour of people, and low TB treatment coverage.
The theme for the 2019 World TB Day enjoins the young, old and all stakeholders involved to come together to act to make Nigeria a TB-free country.
According to WHO, about one-third of the world’s population has latent TB, which means people have been infected by TB bacteria but are not (yet) ill with the disease and cannot transmit the disease. People infected with TB bacteria have a 10% lifetime risk of falling ill with TB. However, persons with compromised immune systems, such as people living with HIV, malnutrition or diabetes, or people who use tobacco, have a much higher risk of falling ill.
In 2017, about 1.7 million people including over 250,000 children globally, died of TB-related causes. Over 95% of TB deaths occurs in low- and middle-income countries especially in Africa.