The wife of the president, Aisha Buhari, has urged Nigerians to present themselves for Tuberculosis test, reminding them that the disease is curable and treatable if diagnosed early.
Mrs Buhari in a press statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday said the clearest symptom of the disease is when an individual is coughing for two weeks without interruption.
Mrs Buhari, who is a Global TB Ambassador, spoke at a TB outreach programme at Kpebi village, Kuruduma on the fringes of the Federal Capital Territory.
The outreach was organised by her office in collaboration with the National TB and Leprosy Control Programme.
Mrs Buhari said although Tuberculosis is one of the world’s most deadly diseases, it is treatable and curable. She said with proper diagnosis and treatment, patients can overcome the disease and live normal lives.
“We should not be caught unawares. Once you notice a cough that has refused to go after two weeks, visit a health facility and consult a doctor”
Mrs. Buhari said treatment for TB is free and called on citizens to take advantage of the screening going on in health facilities across the country, so that if found to be positive, they can be quickly diagnosed and placed on treatment.
Speaking in a similar vein, the Minister of State for Health, Osagie Ehanire, said TB is spread through coughing and sneezing in overcrowded, poorly ventilated spaces.
He said the disease is a leading cause of death in the world as 1.6 million people died of TB in 2017 alone.
Mr Ehanire said silence by victims is the main problem of fighting the disease as 300,000 cases went undetected in 2017.
“These undetected cases are untreated people, who can spread the disease in communities, and that one person with untreated lung tuberculosis can infect 10 – 15 other persons per year,” he said.
Nigeria has the highest burden of the disease in Africa and the third highest burden in the world after India and Indonesia. At least 18 Nigerians die from Tuberculosis (TB) every hour.
Though Nigeria has been making significant efforts in finding missing cases of the disease, cases yet to be detected are more than those reported.
Nigeria has a record of only 25 percent reported cases, meaning 75 percent of TB cases in the country are missing. Detecting all cases is very important because the missing cases are a risk to those who are not infected.
With this low rate of detection, Nigeria is classified among countries with high burden for TB, TB/HIV, and MDR-TB and currently ranks sixth globally.
In 2017 and 2018, the country notified 104,904 and 106,533 cases of TB respectively. This implies that a large number of TB cases are still undetected/missing thereby constituting a pool of for continuous transmission of the disease in the community.
Adebola Lawanson, National Coordinator, TB and Leprosy Control Programme, said the outreach was organised as one of the ways to create awareness about the disease and curtail the spread. She said the outreach was also organised as part of activities to mark the World TB Day, which comes up March, 24.
The outreach she said provided screening and treatment for those found to be positive.
She called on the villagers to take advantage of the opportunity and encouraged others to visit hospitals to be screened. The tests are conducted on a mobile lab tagged “wellness on wheels”.
District Head of Kpebi, High Chief Audu Kaura welcomed guests to his village, while a TB survivor; Mr. Abubakar Bala spoke on his experiences living with the disease.