- As the fight against coronavirus continues at all levels of government, experts have raised the alarm over another deadly disease -tuberculosis
- While coronavirus kills about 60 people daily, tuberculosis kills over 3,000 people daily worldwide
- In Nigeria, 18 people die every hour of tuberculosis while nearly 4,500 people lose their lives to the disease globally
Some experts have cautioned that Nigeria should take necessary action to tackle tuberculosis (TB) in the country, noting that it is worse than coronavirus.
The experts made the comment at the Pre-World TB media briefing in Abuja on Tuesday, March 17.
While coronavirus kills about 60 people daily, tuberculosis kills over 3,000 people daily worldwide. In Nigeria, 18 people die of TB every hour.
They called on the Nigerian government to pay serious attention to TB, stressing that it is a more dangerous disease than the dreaded coronavirus.
Speaking at the briefing, Country Representative Officer, KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation Nigeria, Dr Betrand Odume, lamented the country’s high TB burden, saying 18 Nigerians die from the disease on an hourly basis.
Odume is also the chairman, planning committee, World Tuberculosis Day 2020, with the slogan: ‘Check That Cough, Time No Dey.’
According to him, despite significant progress over the last decades, tuberculosis remains the world’s deadliest infectious disease and requires acceleration of efforts to end the epidemic in Nigeria and globally.
His words: “Each day, nearly 4,500 people lose their lives to TB and close to 30,000 people fall ill with this preventable and curable disease.
“In 2018, about 1.4 million people globally died of TB-related causes including over 205,000 children. And over 95 per cent of TB deaths occur in low and middle-income countries especially Africa. Nigeria is one of the countries with a high burden of the disease globally.”
According to the 2018 Global TB Report, Nigeria is among the 30 high burden countries for TB, TB/HIV and MDR-TB. It ranked 6th among the 30 high TB burden countries and 1st in Africa.
Dr Odume said one of the major challenges of TB response in Nigeria is attributed to low TB case findings both in adult and children.
On his part, Head of TB unit, World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Ayodele Awe, decried the huge funding gaps in the treatment of the disease in Nigeria, saying a larger part of the funds come from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Dr Adebola Lawanson, national Coordinator, National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP), Federal Ministry of Health, said the disease posed a great threat to the average Nigerian health status.
She reiterated the government’s commitment toward ending TB, adding that vulnerable persons, particularly children and People with Disabilities (PWDs) should top the agenda in providing services that would eliminate the disease.
Dr Ronke Agbaje from the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) described TB as the world’s deadliest infectious killer and stressed the need for increased public awareness on the disease.
Speaking also at the event, Chairman House Committee on Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and Malaria, Hon. Sarki Abubakar Dahiru, said there would be an increased legislative engagement on TB with a view to reducing the scourge in the country.
He also promised that each legislator in the green chambers would purchase a tuberculosis-testing machine.
On the poor budget release to the health sector, Dahiru blamed the budget office for not releasing enough money to the health sector to tackle various challenges.
He, however, assured that the house was working assiduously to ensure the adequate release of funds for the health sector, promising that at least 90% of the funds will be released henceforth.
Four months ago, the Nigerian government pledged $12 million (N4.34 billion at N361 per dollar) to end the epidemics of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other preventable and treatable diseases.
A statement released by Toyin Aderibigbe, the head, public relations and protocol division of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) said that a total of $ 14.02 billion was pledged for the next three years.
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