Nigeria launches new medication to tackle Tuberculosis

TB Patients receiving treatment. (Photo Credit: Damien Foundation)

In commemoration of World Tuberculosis Day, Nigeria, on Friday, launched the new paediatric anti-TB formulations for treatment of ‘drug susceptible’ TB in children.

The minister of health, Isaac Adewole, speaking at a press briefing to mark this year’s event in Abuja, said the new drug is both dispersible and flavoured and meets the WHO “optimal dosing recommendations for all children”.

The World TB day is celebrated every March 24.

In his speech, Mr. Adewole said the major drawback of TB programme in Nigeria is low TB case finding for both adult and children “as there are lot of missing TB cases that were either not diagnosed or reported”.

Mr. Adewole said TB burden in the nation has further been compounded by the menace of drug resistance TB (DR-TB) and the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

He said in 2017, only 104,904 TB cases were detected out of an estimated 407,000 of all forms of TB cases expected to be detected in 2017.

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This signifies a treatment coverage of 25.8 percent, leaving a gap of 302,096 comprising undetected or detected but not notified cases especially “in non-DOTS sites”.

“In the same year, the proportion of Childhood TB was 7 per cent of all forms of TB cases compared to 10 per cent recommended by the World Health Organization. In addition, a total of 1783 DR-TB cases were notified out of the estimated 5200 DR-TB cases.”

He said Nigeria has recorded lot of progress in the TB/HIV collaborative activity, as currently 96 per cent TB and 82 per cent presumptive TB cases know their HIV status and 84 per cent co-infected clients receive Anti-retroviral (ART) and CPT.

The minister said in order to accelerate TB case finding, the country has moved from passive to active case-finding in key affected populations.

This he said included people living with HIV (PLHIV), children, urban slum dwellers, prisoners, migrants, internally displaced people and facility-based health care workers.

According to him, over 11,500 TB cases were detected through active house to house case search in 2017.

He explained other achievements.

“TB tracking programme: having 6,753 DOTS centres compared to 3931 in 2010, increase in total number of Microcopy centres in the country from 1,148 in 2010 to 2,650 in 2017 and the total number of GeneXpert machines installed in the country has increased from 32 in 2012 to 390 in 2017.”

He also added that treatment centres for patients with DR-TB have increased from 10 in 2013 to 27 in 2017 and the number of TB reference laboratories has also increased from 9 in 2013 to 10 in 2018.

“Over 90 per cent of the TB patients notified in 2016 have documented HIV test results compared to 79 per cent in 2010. We introduced the shorter drug regimen for the treatment of DR-TB in 2017. This is to reduce the treatment duration for patients with DR-TB and all states have adopted the treatment.”

Mr Adewole said TB Surveillance officers were also recruited to further strengthen TB notification in 12 TB challenged states: Rivers, Delta, Imo, Anambra, Lagos, Oyo, Benue, Niger, Kaduna, Kano, Bauchi and Taraba.

TB remains one of the leading endemic disease across the global with an estimate annual death of 1.5 million people mostly in developing countries. Over ten million new TB cases were estimated to have occurred globally in 2016.

According to the 2017 Global TB Report, Nigeria is among the 14 high-burden countries for TB, TB/HIV and MDR-TB. The country is also ranked seventh among the 30 high TB burden countries and second in Africa.

Nigeria is among the 10 countries that account for 64 per cent of the global gap in TB case finding. India, Indonesia and Nigeria account for almost half of the total gap.

WHO also said globally, $ 2.3 billion is needed every year to fill resource gap for implementing existing TB interventions. Unfortunately, 40 per cent of these funds are not available.

Important facts to note about TB

1. TB is curable.

2. TB diagnosis and treatment are free in public hospitals and DOT centres.

3. People coughing for two weeks or more should visit the hospital for screening.

4. People living with HIV (PLHIV), who recently started coughing should visit the hospital for screening.

5. The toll free line for further information on the TB control is 08002255282.

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