By Bernard Tolani Dada, Uyo
The Nigerian Thoracic Society (NTS) has revealed that over 162,000 persons die of tuberculosis in the country annually.
This was disclosed to journalists yesterday by the president of Nigerian Thoracic Society, NTS, Professor Prince Ele, to mark this year’s World TB day.
Professor Ele who explained that close to 430,000 Nigerians fall ill with the disease yearly, said TB remains the world’s deadliest infectious killer and global efforts to combat the disease have saved millions of lives.
He said, “The World TB Day is celebrated March 24 every year to raise awareness about the health, social and economic consequences of the disease and to step up efforts to end the TB epidemic.
He said that the theme of World TB Day 2021, “The Clock is Ticking”, is quite apt considering the current global health and economic challenges, and lamented that despite strong commitments made by world leaders, efforts to end the disease have been relegated to the background as countries grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.
He advised Nigerian government and indeed, the entire world to ensure that TB gets necessary attention as the number one infectious killer disease.
“We in the Nigerian Thoracic Society are not oblivious of the current challenges our health authorities are contending with, due to COVID-19.
“We implore the health authorities to do the needful in the adequate and equitable coverage of the COVID-19 vaccination program and want to remind them that TB is still the number one infectious killer disease made worse by the advent and rise in the incidence and prevalence of MDRTB across the world and as such, it should continue to receive all the needed attention and the top priority it deserves.
“While we encourage full participation of our members in all local awareness campaigns, we emphasize the need to constantly observe all COVID-19 preventive protocols”, he stated.
Meanwhile, the Kaduna State Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Program, said it recorded 5,878 TB cases in 2020.
The permanent secretary, Ministry of Health, Mohammed Shuaibu disclosed this in Kaduna, yesterday during the 2021 World Tuberculosis Day celebration.
Shuaibu said a total of 74,295 suspected cases were tested across the 23 local government areas in the state, out of which 5, 878 were confirmed.
He said that there had been 106 percent increase in the number of suspected TB cases in the state in 2020, compared to the 2019 figure of 3,606.
Also, the Kano State governor, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje described Tuberculosis as one of the deadliest diseases and a source of high rate of mortality and morbidity in Nigeria and the world.
He maintained that with the level of destruction of lives of people over the years, the state government would continue to give financial support to both the public and private sectors in an effort to curtail the spread of the disease in the state.
The governor spoke during the flag-off of the World Tuberculosis Day yesterday in Kano, organised by the Kano State Ministry of Health in conjunction with Strategic HIV/Aids Response Programme Task Order 3, held at Tsamiyar Boka Primary Health Care Centre in Nassarawa local government area of the state.
In Benue State, the Centre for Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control also expressed concerned over the alarming cases of TB drugs resistant patients in the State.
This is even as the State programme manager for Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control, Dr Shember Igbagbul, lamented that out of the 4,980 TB cases identified in Benue in 2020, over 200 cases of drugs resistant patients were also identified.
Similarly, the Bauchi State Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Malaria, BACATMA, said it recorded tremendous breakthroughs in terms of control of Tuberculosis across all the 20 local government areas of the state. Dr Aliyu Mohammed Maigoro, commissioner for health, Bauchi State, disclosed this in a press conference organised by the Breakthrough Action in collaboration with BACATMA, as part of activities lined up to mark this year’s World TB Day in the state.
We’ll end scourge by 2030 – Governors
Meanwhile, governors of the 36 states of the federation have vowed to end the scourge of tuberculosis by 2030, having resolved to work with relevant stakeholders in the sector.
In their statement to mark World Tuberculosis Day, Ekiti State governor and chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, Kayode Fayemi called on the federal government to provide necessary support to the states to be able to domesticate and achieve the targets.
He, however, lamented that the advent of COVID-19 pandemic and its control measures in 2020 further impacted on the health system including TB services, setting back progress made.
He said, “Today, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum joins the rest of the world to commemorate the World Tuberculosis Day. This day provides the opportunity for the entire world to intensify public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic impact of tuberculosis, as well as renew our commitment to accelerate efforts at the national, state, local government and community levels to eradicate TB in Nigeria.
“Tuberculosis is an airborne disease that affects millions of people regardless of socio-economic status. Though it is preventable and curable, it has remained the deadliest infectious disease globally.
“Currently, Nigeria is
one of the countries with the highest burden of TB, ranking first in Africa and sixth globally. It is estimated that about 18 Nigerians die of TB everyday which translates to 432 people monthly and 157,000 yearly.
“Over the last decade, government and partners have implemented various interventions to ensure that people with TB are found and treated.
“However, the advent of COVID-19 pandemic and its control measures in 2020 further impacted on the health system including TB services, setting back progress made. “Despite this setback, the government in partnership with other stakeholders are working to address these challenges by: strengthening the capacity of State TB Program to be more effective in its role; support revitalization and upgrading of health facilities to provide appropriate TB services especially diagnosis; mobilize more domestic resources for TB programs and activities in the State and to establish a multi-stakeholder State Stop TB Partnerships.
“Therefore, in accordance with the theme of this year’s World TB Day – “The Clock is Ticking”, we reaffirm our commitment to work with other stakeholders to end TB in our respective States.
“We also call on the federal government to provide necessary support to the states to be able to domesticate and achieve the targets and commitments made at the United Nations High-level Meeting on Tuberculosis held in 2018.
“These targets and commitments expect that by 2022, we will be back on track in our efforts to ensure we are able to end TB by 2030”, he stated.