National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme confirms 75% of TB cases in Nigeria as undetected

The National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme says out an estimated 418,000 new cases of Tuberculosis (TB) recorded in Nigeria in 2018 only 104,904 cases or 25 per cent of the cases were notified.

Dr Adebola Lawanson, the National Coordinator of the programme, disclosed this at the pre-world TB Day news conference on Thursday in Abuja.

Lawanson, who was represented by Dr Emperor Ubochioma, said about 319, 599 TB cases were yet to be notified, which implied that large a number of TB cases were still undetected in Nigeria.

The coordinator said this large number of undetected cases in the country constituted a large pool for continuous transmission of the disease in the community.

She explained that this missing TB cases could be found in men, women and children with different forms of TB including the drug resistant TB.

Lawanson said that the proportion of missing TB cases among children was also worrisome, stressing that Nigeria is only able to notify seven per cent of the estimated childhood TB cases in 2017.

“Nigeria ranked sixth globally and first in Africa with the burden of TB, it is classified among countries with high burden of TB, multi-drug resistant TB and TB/HIV,’’ she said.

She said that TB was an airborne disease caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium Tuberculosis; it affects primarily the lungs and other parts of the body.

Lawanson said the disease was preventable and curable, one of the leading causes of death worldwide.

She also said that the disease was a leading cause of death from single infectious agent ranking above HIV/AIDS.

The national coordinator lamented that increasing pool of drug resistant TB in the country continued to be a major threat to the control of TB.

She said that there was low case detection and low level awareness among Nigerians.

“As part of the bold step in finding the missing TB cases in the country, the Federal Ministry of Health with the support of partners is rapidly expanding TB diagnostics and treatment services to more sites across Nigeria.

“We are in with WHO current recommendation on drug resistant TB and expanded the drug resistant TB treatment centres from 15 sites in 2016 to 28.

“All 36 states and FCT have decentralised drug resistant TB management to communities,’’ she said.

Lawanson said in line with TB National Strategic Plan (2015-2020) active case finding among key population including slum dwellers, nomads, IDPs and Persons Living with HIV were given priority.

Globally, March 24 is set aside as the world TB day.

The 2019 theme of the day is: “It is time’’ with a slogan “To end TB in Nigeria keep the promise! Find TB! Treat TB!’’

Dr Odime Bethrand, Senior Programme Specialist TB/HIV, United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, said U.S. government has been a collaborating with the National TB Programme to provide technical assistance in programme design, policy formulations and training.

He added that the U.S. government was working with the local partners that provided services in the area of HIV/AIDS that would also address issues around TB as sometimes the two ailments occur together.

“U.S. also provide support to local partners to ensure that they increase TB case finding among people living with HIV and ensure that those living with HIV that were detected to have TB were linked for appropriate treatment.

“We cannot control TB without addressing issues around HIV because there is a correlation between the two ailments,’’ he said.

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