Aisha Buhari Seeks Action Over 25% Undetected Tuberculosis Cases
By Laide Akinboade, Abuja
The First Lady of Nigeria, Mrs Aisha Buhari, has raised the alarm over the rising figure of undetected cases of tuberculosis in Nigeria, which has been estimated at 25 per cent.
Buhari, a Global TB champion and Ambassador, who made this known at the 2nd National Tuberculosis Conference with the theme ‘Building Stronger Partnerships to End TB in Nigeria,’ in Abuja, said over 170,000 Nigerians die annually from TB, the number one infectious disease killer in the world, a disease which she lamented was preventable and curable.
Nigeria currently has the highest number of tuberculosis cases in Africa and the sixth highest in the world.
Mrs Buhari also disclosed that out of an approximated 600,000 persons infected with TB every year, about 60,000 children were affected.
Represented by her Chief of Staff, Dr. Hajo Sani, she promised to use her office to bridge the gap of TB funding in the country, engage wives of the 36 Governors in the country and form an alliance with the wives of African Presidents to accelerate efforts to end Tuberculosis not only in Nigeria, but in the African continent.
“With the emergence of drug resistant TB, it is also not acceptable that Nigeria is still having one of the lowest TB case detection rates in the world as it is only detecting about only 25% of TB cases and with over 170,000 Nigerians dying annually from preventable and curable disease. This is not an enviable position and situation for any country and it must change.
“I call on all stakeholders, including elected and appointed officials, development partners, civil societies, academia, media religious and traditional institutions to work more together to end TB in Nigeria. It is only through effective coordination that we can all work together to end TB in Nigeria,” she said.
The Executive Director, Stop TB Partnership Geneva, Dr. Lucica Ditiu, said everyone in Nigeria needs to know about the huge Tuberculosis problem in the country, as everyone who is still breathing is at risk of contacting the disease.
While expressing concern over the large number of TB cases with about 70 per cent undiagnosed and untreated, she stressed that unless it was urgently addressed, the numbers of TB infections and deaths in Nigeria would keep increasing.
Ditiu who noted that many countries and international organisations have concluded that Nigeria cannot win the war against TB, said with an all inclusive partnership with all and sundry, she was hopeful TB would be eliminated from Nigeria.
“Nigeria has a lot of potentials, the fact that internationally there are comments that it cannot contain TB in Nigeria, it is very hurtful and for me that is a very passionate fighter for the good image of Nigeria globally, I want to prove everybody wrong and I will show that in Nigeria things can be changed.
“Doctors and nurses alone cannot deal with Tuberculosis, we need partnership with the NGOs, faith based organisations, religious leaders, traditional leaders, the private sector together with the public health programme, international donors, and international technical partners, people affected by Tuberculosis, civil societies and communities.
“Everybody has something to being to the table. The problem with TB is that we are not ready to work together. It should not be about who leads what, it should be about coming together to fight this disease and without engaging everybody wrong at the table, we will not go anywhere,” she said
Earlier, the Chair, Stop TB Partnership Nigeria, Prof. Lovett Lawson, noted that Nigeria has made some incremental progress in the quality of Tuberculosis treatment and care over the years.
He however lamented that the treatment coverage which has remained at a low rate of 25 percent with a stagnant case notification in the last five years, stressed that the trend could only be reversed through an extensive partnership which would help in creating more awareness and addressing the TB funding gap in the country.
Bauchi State Detects 7,806 Cases of Tuberculosis
Bauchi State recorded 7,806 cases of tuberculosis in 2022, Dr Sani Mohammad, Executive Secretary, Bauchi State Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Malaria said on Monday in Bauchi.
He made the declaration at a news conference to mark the 2023 World Tuberculosis Day.
Mohammed represented the Commissioner for Health, Dr Sabiu Gwalabe, at the news conference.
He said the figure was an increase of 2,154 over the 5,652 recorded in 2021.
The WHO set aside March 24 to mark the World Tuberculosis Day annually to raise awareness about tuberculosis and efforts to end the pandemic.
He said also that the 2022 figure, representing about 53 per cent increase of the 2021 level was the highest recorded so far in the state.
“Out of the 5,518 new cases that were placed on treatment in 2022, about 5,192; that is 94 per cent were successfully treated at the end of the year.
“Bauchi State currently has 794 free tuberculosis treatment centres, 127 diagnostic centres and 15 GeneXperts,’’ he said.
Mohammed said the state government, in collaboration with implementing partners such as Breakthrough Action-Nigeria, was conducting active case findings across Bauchi State.
He said that the 2023 World Tuberculosis Day would be celebrated with series of phone-in television and radio programmes to increase awareness.
Nutritional support for some patients and combined free testing and treatment for tuberculosis, COVID-19, HIV, Hepatitis and Malaria, would also be provided, he added.
In his remarks, Dr Yakubu Abdullahi, Director, Tuberculosis Control Programme in Bauchi State, said the agency would train paediatric doctors from secondary and tertiary institutions on case detection among children.
He said that there was collaboration also between the agency and nutritional clinics in the state to detect tuberculosis in children.
“Diagnosing tuberculosis in children is a challenge, but we have decided to use their stools as samples,’’ Abdullahi said. (NAN)
EU Allocates N75m to Prevent Diphtheria Spread in Nigeria
By Laide Akinboade, Abuja
In order to help Nigeria to prevent the spread of diphtheria cases which started at the beginning of 2023, the European Union, EU, has released €150,000 (N75 million) in humanitarian funds.
The money has been released to assist the most affected communities in the states of Kano, Katsina, Lagos, and Osun.
A statement issued by the EU and made available to journalists in Abuja, yesterday, said the EU funding would enable the Nigerian Red Cross to provide emergency assistance to reduce the impact of diphtheria on affected and at-risk communities through risk communication, outbreak control activities, surveillance, patient referral and hygiene promotion, and early case detection in affected areas.
“Humanitarian assistance will, directly and indirectly, target around 1,585,080 people, with a particular focus on vulnerable people at risk of diphtheria, those living in sheltered communities or hard-to-reach locations.
“This funding is part of the EU’s overall contribution to the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
“On 20 January 2023, the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) officially declared an outbreak of diphtheria in Kano and Lagos states after several suspected cases appeared a month earlier. The disease then spread rapidly to other states. From 136 cases in the first week of 2023, the country now records a total of 733 suspected cases and deplores 89 fatalities.
“The outbreak is described as one of the most serious occurrences in Nigeria in recent years. Children aged between 5 and 18 years are the most vulnerable group.
“Diphtheria is a highly contagious bacterial infection transmitted between humans. It causes an infection of the upper respiratory tract, which can lead to breathing difficulties and suffocation. Those most at risk are children and people who have not been fully vaccinated against the disease,” the statement read.
Tuberculosis: Africa Achieves 26% Death Reduction, WHO Says
By Laide Akinboade, Abuja
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that the African continent was progressing in its efforts to mitigate Tuberculosis related deaths, as it has achieved a 26 per cent success rate so far.
WHO’s Africa Regional Director Matshdiso Moeti, made this known on Friday, in a statement released to mark the 2023 world Tuberculosis day.
“The region is now on the threshold of reaching 35 percent TB death reduction,” she said, adding that the 26 percent reduction recorded was achieved between 2015 and 2021.
However, Matshdiso said seven countries— Eswatini, Kenya, Mozambique, South Soudan, Togo, Uganda, and Zambia have achieved a 35 per cent reduction level in TB death since 2015.
Furthermore, Matshdiso decried the challenges in TB prevention and control experienced in the region.
“First, there is a delay in diagnosis and testing. There is still a notable gap between the estimated number of new infections and case notifications of TB – 40 per cent of people living with TB did not know of their diagnosis or it was not reported in 2021.
“One million people are living with TB in the region and have not been detected.
“Second, the link between TB and HIV. Approximately 20 per cent of people newly diagnosed with TB are also living with HIV infection.
“Third, the multi-drug resistant TB. In the African region, only 26 per cent of all people living with multi-drug resistance are receiving the appropriate treatment,” she said.
Albeit, Matshdiso expressed delight that member states are increasing the uptake of new tools and guidance recommended by WHO, resulting in early access to TB prevention and care and better outcomes.
She further noted that in the African Region, the use of rapid diagnostic testing has increased from 34 per cent in 2020 to 43 per cent in 2021, which will improve countries’ ability to detect and diagnose new cases of the disease.
“It is particularly important to find and diagnose cases of TB so that the patients can be treated, and their contacts offered preventive medication. Nigeria is an example of a country that managed to significantly increase national TB case finding by 50 per cent in 2021 using innovative approaches such as the expansion of the daily observed treatment protocols, use of digital technologies, Community Active Case Finding, and enlisting Public Private Mix initiatives.”
She said that TB required concerted action by all sectors: from communities and businesses to governments, civil society, and others.
“We must work together to develop innovative approaches to reach vulnerable populations and ensure that they have access to quality TB care and management,” said Matshdiso.
She further disclosed that the second UN High-level Meeting on TB in September 2023 will provide a rare opportunity to give global visibility to the disease and mobilize high-level political commitment to end TB.
DAILY ASSET reports that World TB Day is commemorated yearly on March 24 to raise public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of this preventable disease and call for accelerated action to end it.
This year’s theme is “Yes, we can end TB,” highlighting the need to ensure equitable access to prevention and care, in line with the drive towards Universal Health Coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals
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