The Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) has identified Lagos State as the epicentre of Tuberculosis in the country, adding that more than 300,000 cases are left undiagnosed nationwide every year.
Speaking during a virtual interview with journalists on Tuesday, the director, technical programmes, USAID Tuberculosis Local Organisations Network (TB LON 3) project, Olugbenga Daniel, said the undetected cases pose significant threat to the fight against TB in the country.
He said a positive index TB patient infects 15 people annually.
About TB in Nigeria
Tuberculosis, a disease caused by bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis) often affects the lungs.
It is spread from person to person through the air. When people with TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air. A person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected.
According to statistics, Nigeria remains one of the 30 countries globally with the highest burden of the disease, while it also ranks first in Africa in the number of undetected cases.
Although TB is one of the vaccine-preventable diseases which is also curable, statistics from the WHO show that every year, around 245,000 Nigerians die from TB, and about 590,000 new cases occur.
Out of the 590,000 cases, around 140,000 are said to be HIV-positive.
According to Mr Daniel, Lagos State is the epicentre of the disease in Nigeria due to its population density, landscape and other factors.
Meanwhile, data released by ‘Stop TB Partnership’ in March, 2021, shows that global treatment and diagnosis of TB cases witnessed a drastic decline in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has infected millions of people worldwide.
The report also indicates that disruptions in services caused by the pandemic have led to further setbacks in progress already made against the disease.
“So this boils down to the fact that we still have over 300,000 TB cases annually that are yet to be diagnosed,” he said, adding that; “If you do the geometric progression of that, knowing the number of people that will be infected annually by undiagnosed TB cases, which truly if you look at it critically, is an emergency.”
Mr Daniel said TB burden in the country especially with missing cases requires the deployment of innovative strategies to identify and place people on treatment.
TB LON 3
The TB LON 3 project is a five-year project that is primarily focused on finding missing TB cases, according to the IHVN official.
Sponsored by USAID, the project seeks to rapidly increase the level of TB cases detected and treated in Nigeria over the next five years (2020-2025), with IHVN implementing the project in Lagos, Osun, Ogun and Oyo states.
Mr Daniel said 11,000 new cases of TB have been identified in the four states in the last one year through the TB LON 3 project.
“The project has been very successful in increasing and improving the case finding across the supported states,” he said.
Mr Daniel noted that Nigeria is expected to identify 432,000 TB cases annually but it is still far from meeting this target.
“Up until last year 2020, our case finding has been staggering around 24 to 25 per cent and that comes to a range of about 100,000 or 105,000 cases.
“In 2019, we increased to about 116,000/120,000 cases and thereafter we had an increase in 2020 to about 130,000 cases,” he said.
He explained that the identified cases were due to concerted effort of both the public and private facility intervention as well as community activities.
The official lamented that there is an existing huge funding gap in TB management, despite the disease claiming lives daily in the country.
He said it’s quite alarming that the TB programme in Nigeria is majorly funded by foreign donors.
“Even that is also the picture we have of HIV. There are countries out there that their governments are primarily responsible for the drive for the TB programme.
“A case in point is India and South Africa, where between 80 and 85 per cent of the funding is from the government while the donors are contributing the remaining percentage,” he said.
He said it is important to take over the funding as it will help structure the programme and give it local content.
He said the government will be able to dictate the direction of the programme.
“But as we speak, it’s the donors that determine what they want the funding to do, and which might not really provide the local content that you really want,” he said.
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