67,603 TB patients on treatment in 9 states – Official

67,603 TB patients on treatment in 9 states – Official

July 10, 2024

No fewer than 67,603 Tuberculosis (TB) patients are currently on treatment in nine states as of March 31, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports.

Dr Ibrahim Umar, Programme Manager, State Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Buruli Ulcer Control, made the disclosure in an interview with the NAN on Wednesday in Lagos.

Umar listed the states to include Kano, Bauchi, Benue, FCT, Lagos, Osun, Oyo, Nasarawa and Katsina.

According to him, Nigeria has the highest number of TB patients in Africa, with many undiagnosed and undetected patients.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), tuberculosis is a contagious and potentially life-threatening infectious disease that mainly affects the lungs.

The disease is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It spreads from person to person through the air when people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit.

The health agency noted that a person needed to inhale only a few germs to become infected, adding that every year, 10 million people fall ill with tuberculosis (TB).

It added that in spite of being a preventable and curable disease, 1.5 million people die from TB each year, making it the world’s top infectious killer.

Umar said that there was a low awareness programme of the disease, in spite of the existence of free diagnosis and treatment programmes.

He said that a large percentage of TB patients across project states could not afford adequate nutrition required to sustain treatment adherence.

The manager said that a large number of TB Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) centres were dilapidated, and the majority of identified Collaborative Ocular Tuberculosis (COT) centres inadequately equipped with testing equipment.

He called for strategic collaboration with the private sector to upgrade and reactivate DOT sites in project states.

Umar acknowledged that Nigeria had made substantial progress in TB control, stressing that more effort was required to meet the global target of ending TB by 2030.

”The Nigerian government set a 50 per cent target for domestic funding for TB by 2025 against a baseline of eight per cent in 2019.

”Currently, we are below 20 per cent as at the end of 2023, showing we are far from our target with only one year left”, he said.

Umar said that funding for TB was affected by over-dependence on foreign donors, coupled with shrinking resources and sub-optimal participation of the private sector in domestic resource mobilisation for response.

”The reason why we have this burden is because in the last few years, our population has almost tripled and also the number of patients that have TB.

”The number of equipment and resources that we have is not keeping pace with that number.

”Government alone cannot handle all the problems. Partners and other international organisations alone cannot handle all the problems”, he said.

He emphasised that an active participation from the private sector would strengthen TB response and put the country on track to eliminate the disease by 2030. (NAN)