BY PATIENCE IVIE IHEJIRIKA, Abuja
Health experts have expressed worry over poor tuberculosis (TB) awareness in Nigeria as 74 per cent of estimated cases remain undetected or untreated.
They fear that the high level of undetected cases may hugely increase the disease burden in the country as one untreated case can infect about 15 people in one year.
Speaking at a virtual TB media roundtable, tagged: lmproving TB awareness creation: Lessons from COVID-19, the Head of Communication and Social Mobilisation, National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP), Itohowo Uko, said that only 26 per cent of the estimated TB cases in the country have been identified and placed on treatment.
She said it is worrisome that most of the cases are in the communities and a lot of people are not even aware of the disease, adding that a large percentage of health workers do not know the mode of transmission of TB.
This has really hampered TB programme in the country, said Uko, who identified myth, conceptions and stigmatisation as other challenges hampering the programme.
“We still have well over 74 per cent of the estimated cases that are still in the communities.
“One case of untreated TB can actually affect 15 more people within one year. Yet, many people are still not aware of it, and some do not even believe that TB is real,” said Uko.
The deputy director, Health Orientation and communication, National Orientation Agency (NOA), Olufemi Ayoola, said that the perception of TB in the country was very low, urging that “We must change the perception of TB in Nigeria to let people see that TB is still a problem. We must bring all stakeholders on board, and let TB be perceived as emergency in Nigeria.”