The National Tuberculosis, Buruli Ulcer and Leprosy Control Program (NTBLCP) in Nigeria says 73 percent of Nigerians are not aware of the overlapping high burdens of tuberculosis (TB), in the country.
The National Coordinator, NTBLCP, Dr Chukwuemeka Anyike, said this on Thursday, in Abuja, at a two day media engagement and sensitization meeting, organized by NTBLCP.
He said that only 27 percent of Nigerians are aware of the infectious disease in the country of over 206 million people.
He said that in the year 2019, an estimated 440,000 new cases of tuberculosis occurred while about 150,000 Nigerians died from TB.
He noted that TB accounts for more than 10 percent of all deaths in Nigeria as every hour, nearly 30 people die from the diseases, despite effective and free treatments being available.
Anyike also noted that TB was deadly and it requires urgent treatment that Nigerians should be aware off.
“In fact, the vast majority of people infected with TB will never get sick; they won’t experience symptoms or become infectious.
It’s a condition known as latent TB in which the bacteria that cause TB simply stay dormant in the body,” he explained.
He noted that active TB case-finding is vital to reducing the burden of the disease in the country, because Nigeria had over 440,000 incident TB cases, and over 300,000 were estimated to be missed annually.
“if you notice any changes in your respiratory tract both upper and lower, ensure you meet your doctor for a proper diagnosis.
Shortness of breath, hemoptysis, anorexia, coloured sputum, chest pain, waste of muscle, unstoppable cough and fatigue are signs and symptoms of tuberculosis,” he said.
According to him, most TB patients fail to recognize their symptoms as due to TB, because of the stigma attached to the disease in society.
“The way people treat those with TB, especially close contacts, is also a source of worry to the patients.
This may lead to delay in reporting to the hospital and consequently increase mortality from the disease.
It may also make it difficult for the patients to comply with the long duration of TB treatment,” he explained.
Anyaike stressed that TB remains an important cause of illness and death in Nigerian children.
“The emergence of HIV has further increased the burden of the disease.
Childhood TB is under-diagnosed and under-reported in Nigeria.
The diagnosis of TB can be made in most children based on a careful clinical evaluation.
History of contact with a person with pulmonary TB is a very important component in the diagnosis of TB in children,” he advised.
Similarly, the Deputy Director, Malaria and Tuberculosis, Breakthrough ACTION, Nigeria,(BA-N), Dr Bolatito Aiyenigba said that BA-N would continue to partner with the with them Government of Nigeria to accomplish the goal of the NTBLCP to ensure access to comprehensive and high-quality patient-centered and community-owned TB services for all Nigerians.
She said that it was important so that to find the missing TB cases.
“The current case finding is only around 26 percent, meaning 74 percent of cases aren’t detected or reported and these people may be transmitting TB to others in the communities”.
She said that the aim of the campaign was to encourage people who are vulnerable to TB to go to the health facilities to get tested for TB.
“We’re hoping that the campaign will be nationwide for maximum reach and impact,” she added.
The Head, Advocacy and Communication and Social Mobilization, NTLCP , Mrs Itoghowo Uko, said that the media engagement and sensitization meeting was something to be thrilled about.
“Knowledge they say is power, when you give an individual the right information, he or she would be able to make decisions on his or her life from an informed position.
We have been able to sensitize Nigerians on the simple signs of Tuberculosis and the reason they need to go and do a test.
But, with what we have done today, and the responses we have gotten, we believe that the media will do the right thing through their reportage to tell Nigerians the danger of TB,” Uko said.
She also added that the more aware Nigerians were about TB, the sooner the burden would reduce.
The media was also advised to continue to create awareness on the need for people to get tested.
The ongoing ‘CHECK AMoooo’ campaign has been described as successful.
NTBLCP: 73% of Nigerians not aware of Tuberculosis