Although global efforts have averted an estimated 54 million Tuberculosis (TB) deaths since 2000, TB remains the world’s deadliest infectious disease.
Tuberculosis is the leading cause of death from a single infectious agent, causing an estimated 1.6 million deaths globally in 2017 with Nigeria accounting for 9% of fatal cases.
TB is a “vicious epidemic” fuelled by poverty, inequality, migration, and conflict. With a teeming population filled with people living in rural and low-income areas and are more prone to contracting tuberculosis without adequate means of treatment and management, Nigeria currently has the 6th highest burden of TB in the world.
Nigeria is also ranked number 1 of tuberculosis cases out of the 52 countries in the whole African continent. Nigeria also contributes an estimated 154,000 deaths each year, stressing the burden of TB in the country, and the need to step up the fight to prevent, diagnose and cure TB.
What we are doing to curb the spread of tuberculosis
- Nigeria as a member of ECOWAS states is committed to sticking to the WHO strategy of ending the menace of tuberculosis and cutting down the number of tuberculosis-related deaths by 90% and also to cut down the number of new cases by 80% by 2030.
- The National Tuberculosis and Leprosy control programme (NTBLCP) was established in 1988 (but launched in 1991) with a mandate to ensure the control of tuberculosis, Leprosy and Buruli ulcer in Nigeria
- The NTBLCP currently operates a 6 years National Strategic Plan for Tuberculosis (2015-2020)
Challenges in the fight against tuberculosis
The challenges in the fight against tuberculosis in Nigeria include:
- Low detection rates: Three in four TB patients are not diagnosed and put on treatment, the more than 300,000 undiagnosed TB patients pose public health risk in our communities
- The high rate of people living with HIV/AIDS as they are more vulnerable to infections
- Multidrug resistant TB remains a public health crisis and a threat to health security
- Diagnosis: Currently geneXpert machines are used to diagnose #tuberculosis under 90 minutes however there is a limited amount of these machines to cover the large population of people in Nigeria.
- There are also funding gaps as most funds are from donor agencies.
Stepping Up The Fight
- There is an urgent need to test more presumptive cases to confirm the diagnosis and treat patients accordingly to prevent the spread of tuberculosis and mortality rates of patients in Nigeria. The following are the priority focus of the TB program:
- Integration of TB into other interventions and control programme (HIV, RMNCHA, nutrition, DM)
- Reduce catastrophic cost through incorporation of TB services into national and State Health Insurance schemes and other social protection mechanisms.
- Addressing the needs of key and vulnerable populations
- Mobilize domestic resources towards addressing the TB funding gap