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HomeNewsStakeholders worry as TB scourge fails to abate in Nigeria

Stakeholders worry as TB scourge fails to abate in Nigeria

Since 2017, when the World Health Organization (WHO) initially reported that 18 Nigerians die every hour from Tuberculosis (TB), efforts have been made to address the issue. While some Nigerians suspect that the reported figure is underestimated and that the actual number could be higher, others believe it was fabricated to secure funding from international donor agencies.

The Federal Government of Nigeria has implemented measures to combat the problem, but progress has been limited.

According to a recent report from the National Tuberculosis, Buruli Ulcer, and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP), the devastating impact of Tuberculosis (TB) continues to be a significant concern in Nigeria. Mrs. Itohowo Uko, the Deputy Director of NTBLCP in the Federal Ministry of Health, revealed this information during an integrated media parley organized by Breakthrough Action Nigeria in collaboration with the Health Writers Association of Nigeria (HEWAN) in Lagos.

Uko, a laboratory scientist, emphasized that TB is an airborne infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, primarily affecting the lungs but capable of affecting any part of the body. Citing data from the World Health Organization’s 2017 global report, she highlighted Nigeria as one of the 14 countries with a high burden of TB, estimating that two out of every 1000 Nigerians are affected by the disease. Alarmingly, she stated that more than 18 Nigerians die every hour from TB, and untreated cases have the potential to infect between 10 and 115 individuals annually.

Furthermore, Uko underscored the urgency of addressing this public health crisis and urged all stakeholders to prioritize efforts towards achieving a TB-free Nigeria, reducing the burden of the disease, and ultimately preventing TB-related deaths.

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Adding to the discourse, Dr. Cynthia Onwuteaka, a senior Programme Officer with KNCV Nigeria, highlighted the significance of World Tuberculosis Day, emphasizing the theme “Yes, We Can.” She emphasized the importance of creating awareness to ensure more people have access to necessary care and support.

Despite these efforts, Dr. Ifeanyi Ohabuenyi, the Medical Director of St. Bridget Memorial Hospital in Obollo Afor, Udenu Local Government of Enugu State, expressed skepticism regarding the reported statistics. He questioned the authenticity of the figures, suggesting they may be inflated to secure funding from international donor agencies.

Echoing this sentiment, Dr. Kenneth Ugwu, a medical laboratory scientist and microbiologist, argued that the reported figures may be underestimated, as they only capture cases reported at public health facilities, neglecting those in rural areas who may not seek medical attention. Additionally, Sir Ugwu Anthony, an associate professor of Medical Imaging at Nnamdi University in Awka, urged the government to prioritize public awareness campaigns on personal hygiene and the importance of seeking medical care for persistent coughs, particularly in rural communities where many potential TB patients reside.

In summary, while efforts are being made to combat TB in Nigeria, there are concerns regarding the accuracy of reported data and the accessibility of healthcare services, particularly in rural areas. Addressing these challenges is crucial in effectively tackling the TB epidemic and preventing unnecessary loss of lives.

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