On 18/Jul/2019 / In Medical News
The Federal Government, on Wednesday, raised the alarm over the high rate of deaths caused by tuberculosis in Nigeria, noting that annually, the highly infectious disease kills 120,000 people in the country, with the working age group mostly affected.
The statistics was revealed by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Abdullahi Mashi, at the opening ceremony of the National Tuberculosis Conference in Abuja, which was organised by Stop TB Partnership Nigeria and global partners. Among dignitaries at the event was the wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, who charged politicians to use their offices to bridge the funding gap and end tuberculosis in Nigeria.
In his speech, chairman of Stop TB Partnership in Nigeria, Prof Lovett Lawson, said the programme was a follow up to the first National TB Conference held in 2016 which drew over 2000 participants.
Mashi, who was represented by the Director of Public Health in the ministry, Dr Evelyn Ngige, said it was sad that Nigeria had become first among African countries with the highest cases of TB in Africa and the sixth in the world.
He said, “Four hundred and eighteen thousand Nigerians of all ages are estimated to have tuberculosis every year and 41,800 children are estimated to have tuberculosis in Nigeria annually. The working age group of 15 to 44 years is most affected by TB disease and death. Seventy one per cent of tuberculosis cases and their households are affected by catastrophic cost due to tuberculosis, while over 120,000 Nigerians die annually of the disease.”
Mashi said the Federal Government had been taking steps to tackle the disease through the establishment of the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Treatment Centre, adding that currently, there were 2,856 tuberculosis microscopic centres and 9,625 treatment centres across the country among other measures. According to Mashi, only 25 per cent of estimated TB cases were reported in 2018, leaving over 300,000 undiagnosed.
In her remark, Aisha Buhari said Nigeria needed to pay more attention to the issue of tuberculosis as it had now become the number one killer infectious disease in the world.
She said, “It is based on the need to build stronger partnership that I accepted to be the global TB champion and ambassador to end tuberculosis in Nigeria. I will use my position to call for more resources from government in order to bridge the huge gap in funding of TB programme. I therefore call on stakeholders, including elected politicians, religious and traditional institutions to work together to end TB in Nigeria.”
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