Eighteen Nigerians are said to die every hour from tuberculosis.
The Board Chairman, Stop TB Partnership Nigeria Lovetr Lawson, disclosed this at a Pre world TB Day press conference held in Abuja..
He said, according to Global TB report, TB causes ill health for approximately 10 million people each year.
Lawson said Nigeria has the highest burden of the disease in Africa and third highest burden in the world after India and Indonesia.
He lamented that over 75 percent of Nigerians living with the disease are yet to be diagnosed.
This, he blamed on the lack of awareness about the disease among communities.
He also blamed the prevalence of the disease on social stigma attached to those diagnosed with the disease.
Lawanson noted that though in recent times, Nigeria has been improving its efforts to finding the missing cases, but those cases yet to be detected are more than those reported. This he said is very important because the missing cases are risk to those who are yet to get infected.
Lawson advised Nigerians who have been coughing for more than two weeks to visit the health facilities because an infected person can serve as a potent risk infecting 10 to 15 persons if not quickly treated.
“Unfortunately, despite significant progress made over the last few years, every hour, 18 Nigerians still die of TB; a disease that is preventable and curable.
It is on this basis that Stop TB partnership Nigeria is working with other partners to complement the efforts of the government to end TB in Nigeria.
He said the government should accelerate TB response Programmes to tackle the disease.
Also speaking at the event, the National Cordinator, National Tuberculosis Buruli Ulcer and Leprosy Control Prograame in Nigeria, Adebola Lawanson, said that the disease, though preventable and curable is one of the leading causes of death worldwide.
Lawanson who was represented by Emperor Ubochioma, lamented that Nigeria still ranks high among countries with the highest burden of the diseases. He said Nigeria has so far been able to detect only 25 percent of people with the disease.
He said “with this low rate of detection, Nigeria is classified among countries with high burden for TB, TB/HIV and MDR-TB and currently ranked sixth globally and first in Africa”.
He said the country contributes 9 percent to the global 3.6 million missing TB cases after India and Indonesia with 26 per cent and 11 percent respectively with an estimated 418,000 new TB cases occuring in Nigeria in 2018.
“The country notified 104,904 (25 percent) and 106,533 cases of TB in 2017 and 2018 respectively giving a gap of 314,712 and 319,599 cases yet to be notified respectively. This implies that a large number of TB cases are still undetected/missing thereby constituting a pool for continuous transmission of diseases in the community,” he said.
Adding that the missing TB cases can be found among men, women and children with different forms of TB including drug resistance TB.
“TB has remain a major global problem. It is one of the leading causes of death worldwide and the leading cause from a single infectious agent, ranking above HIV/AIDS.In 2017, there were an estimated 1.3 million TB deaths among HIV negative people and an additional 300,000 deaths among HIV- positive people.Despite these poor indices, most death from TB can be prevented with early diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Millions of people are diagnosed and successfully treated for TB each year and about 54 million deaths were averted from 2000- 2017”, he said.
He said the major challenges identified for the high missing cases of the disease is the low case detection and low level of awareness among the populace.
“ As a bold step in finding missing TB cases in the country, the federal Ministry of health is rapidly expanding TB diagnosis and treatment services to more sites across the country,” he added.
He therefore urged Nigerians to always visit the health facilities when they have cough that has exceesed two weeks.
Other stakeholders at the meeting agreed that Nigeria needs to step up efforts to address Tuberculosis in the country.
The World TB Day is celebrated March 24 to raise awareness about the health, social and economic consequence of the disease and to step up efforts to end TB epidemic.