The Federal Government has disclosed that not less than 4.5 million Nigerians are at risk of contracting tuberculosis (TB) every year, as over 300,000 TB cases are missing.
It noted that a single person with untreated TB can infect between 10 to 15 people yearly. Hence, the 4.5 million Nigerians at risk.
It further stated that only 11 percent of persons with Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis (DR-TB) are on treatment, leaving 89 percent of them in the community.
The government therefore called on critical stakeholders to ramp up efforts and collaborations through financial support, technical support etc., as there currently exists a funding gap of 70 percent.
The National Coordinator of the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP), Dr Chukwuma Anyike, made these known during a workshop by the Stop TB Partnership, in collaboration with Treatment Action Group (TAG), and the NTBLCP of the Federal Ministry of Health, on Monday in Abuja.
He said: “If we don’t cut the chain of transmission, we are wasting our time. If we identify TB patients and do not bring them in to complete their treatment, we are wasting our time.
“We have 440,000 new TB cases yearly, and missing over 300,000 cases. Data suggests that a single case of TB can infect between 10 to 15 persons yearly. If you then do the calculation by multiplying 300,000 by 15; this tells you the number of Nigerians that can get infected with TB yearly.
“Nigeria is among the 30 high DR-TB burden countries globally. It is estimated that 4.3 percent of the new and 15 percent of the previously treated cases have DR-TB. However, we only have 11 percent of DR-TB treated; leaving a gap of 89 percent of DR-TB untreated.
“There are 28 DR-TB treatment centres in Nigeria. However, due to the vandalization of the treatment centre in Calabar, has reduced to 27 DR-TB treatment centres across the country. The World Health Organization (WHO) has played a vital role in terms of technical support and otherwise; creating new treatment protocols.
“We are advocating 100 percent treatment adherence. We need to end stigma and discrimination. Only 27 percent of Nigerians have good knowledge of TB.”
He added: “Also, good nutrition is key to taking TB drugs because it causes a lot of changes to the body of the patient. We therefore need to extend love to people with TB, by providing food and other resources for them because due to their condition they temporarily cannot work and earn to take care of themselves.
“We need to have another survey of TB prevalence in Nigeria because the last survey was done in 2012. Going by the recommendation from the WHO, such surveys should be done between 5 to 7 years. We have a funding gap of 70 percent because donor support is currently 23 percent, while domestic funding is 7 percent.”
Representing the Chairman of the Stop TB Partnership Board, Dr Ayodele Awe, the Executive Secretary of the Partnership, Mayowa Joel, expressed hopes that the meeting will elicit tangible recommendations to identify and place TB patients in treatment.