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FG blames Nigeria’s high TB burden on poor sensitization 

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… Sets 2035 as target for defeating disease

Prof. Adewole (2nd Right) commissioning the GeneXpert rapid diagnostic TB test facility at Kuchigoro Primary Health Care Centre, Abuja.

 

ABUJA  – The  Federal Government said today that current ranking of Nigeria as the fourth most burdened nation with tuberculosis worldwide is due to poor sensitization of people in the country on the disease.

Global TB statistics, as the world mark the 2017 World TB Day, show that six countries accounted for 60% of the world’s total TB burden, with India bearing the brunt, followed by Indonesia, China, Nigeria, Pakistan and South Africa.

Speaking during the commemoration of World TB Day  in Nigeria and commissioning of GeneXpert rapid diagnostic TB test facility at the Primary Health Care Centre,  Kuchigoro in Abuja, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole said the high rate of the disease in the country, and the nation’s position as the country with the highest TB cases in Africa was not as a result of lack of facilities for testing suspected cases, but failure of persons with the ailment to present themselves for testing and treatment.

The Minister said government had since 2011 increased commitment to fighting the disease by raising initial seven GeneXpert  machines available in the country for rapidly testing the disease. He added that 318 of such machines  were further requested in this year  budget proposal.

Adewole explained that free treatment for tuberculous goes hand in hand with the treatment of the Human Immune Virus (HIV), for anyone infected with either one of them or both diseases. While assuring that TB is treatable and curable, the minister called on people who have coughed up to two weeks to present themselves at health facilities close to them for counselling and testing for the highly communicable ailment.

Despite the present burden of TB in the country, the Federal Government would ensure the disease is defeated in 2035, Adewole stated. He stressed that the government was working with all its partners to increase awareness and establish more specialised medical centres dedicated towards free testing and treatment of the disease.

“This disease is affecting hundreds of thousands of Nigerians every year. We are number one in Africa in respect to the burden of the disease and the fourth in the world. We do not want to take pride in this burden, we really want a country where there is no TB; that will be our pride.

“We are  committed to ending TB in 2035 by increasing the number of our facilities. We started in 2011 with seven GeneXpert  machine, now we have 318 and in our 2017 budget proposal, we have increased the number.

“The target is to have one of this facility in every local government area. The issue is not money really, but awareness.

” What we are doing today is to declare war against tuberculosis. If we work together, we will fight tuberculosis, end tuberculosis and make Nigeria proud. The test and treatment are free; join us to fight TB.

“There is absolutely no reason anyone with tuberculosis should die,” he added.

 

In his remarks, Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, blamed the spread of the disease on overcrowding, high burden of HIV/AIDS, poverty, humanitarian crisis, among others.

He disclosed  that Sokoto State has the highest burden of TB in the country. According to him, government continues to step up fight against the disease, with support from its partners, through the provision of free TB diagnostic and treatment services across the country.

“According to the 2016 global TB report, TB incidence rate for Nigeria was put at 322 per every 10,000 persons.  However, only 50 out of these 322 persons were detected, giving a ratio of one in every six persons with tuberculosis in the same year, and with a TB case notification rate of 53 per 100,000 population.

“This rate varies from state to state with Sokoto state having the highest TB case notification rate of 127 per 100,000 for the year 2016,” he said.

Earlier in the week, Federal Government vowed to identify estimated 600,000 cases of TB in the country.

Speaking at New Kuchingoro, a community accommodating internally displaced persons in Abuja, National TB, Leprosy Control Programme,  Dr Adebola Lawanson, said government would ensure 500,000 cases of the disease that were being missed yearly in the country are identified.

He was in the community with local and international partners working on the disease such as Institute of Human Virology of Nigeria (IHVN) Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH) The group donated food items and writing materials for people of, and school children of the community as part of efforts to alleviate their pains and raise campaign against the ailment.

She said the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, had declared this year as a year of action against the communicable ailment, especially in identifying missing TB cases in the country.

Her words: “We are here today to create awareness around TB. Actually, the most important thing in Nigeria is that based on our prevalence survey we had few years back, we realized there is supposed to be estimated 600,000 people with TB. And, annually, we are identifying 100,000. That shows us that there are many more people who are out there with TB. Those places are missing. One case has the potential of infecting 10 to 15 people out there in the community.

“And, because of that, we are saying that the present administration is so concerned in finding other 500,000 cases that are missing. We chose this camp because it is a place where people live together. And, transmission of TB is very high in congregate setting, especially among the people where the ventilation is very poor. That is why we chose this place, to come and sensitize the people, screen them, get out those people who may be having TB, and quickly link them to treatment. This is because TB is treatable and it is curable.

She added that given the present Federal Government and partners determination to defeat the disease in the country, TB should be a thing of the past in the next 50 years.

In his remarks, Chairman, World TB Day Committee and World Health Organization (WHO) officer in charge of Tuberculosis,  Dr Ayodele Awe, said 24th March had been set aside as the World TB Day. This, according to him, is set aside to stimulate the politicians, stimulate the government and partners on the plight of TB patients.

“So, Nigeria is joining in the commemoration…We have a one-week activity plan. This has been planned in line with the Honourable Minister of Health’s declaration of 2017 as the year of accelerating TB case finding Nigeria. For this 2017 World TB Day, we have selected a slogan which is ‘Accelerating TB Case Finding in Nigeria.’ Part of the activities that have been outlined is coming to concentrated camps like IDPs. TB spreads more where people are living together as communal.

“We have selected IDPs in Kushingoro as one of the sites where we can demonstrate the commitment of the government by screening the persons in the IDPs, that includes persons that are coughing in Kushingoro community. We are here today, we have a stand that we have prepared.

“We are giving enlightenment to the community themselves, and we are saying that anybody that have been coughing for two weeks or more should come out and be screened. So, coming to Kushingoro community is very significant. We know there are several IDPs in Nigeria, and we know that TB spreads faster among people that are living in communities. If you screen those people, you are likely to see more cases.”

He went on: “We are collecting the sputum sample here. Any person that is that is positive, already, through the Minister’s intervention, we provided a dot centre at the PHC in Kushingoro at this same place, we are going to officially launch that on Monday. Anybody that we have detected in this IDP will just walk there and get treatment.

“We are also using the most revolutionized technology, which is called the GeneXpert that the Honourable Minister is officially handing over to this Kushingoro community on Friday to test the sputum that we collect. Unlike the microscopic that we were using before, when you use microscopic to do the test, it takes two days, but the revolutionized molecular technology that we are using sees TB in 100 minutes. This means that we can see TB in people that are here very fast. And, the result will be very accurate.”

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