Despite global efforts to reduce the mortality rate of tuberculosis, TB, Nigeria still ranks high among the seven countries which account majorly for the disease globally.
Nigeria ranked sixth among the countries with the global burden. Two of the major challenges (for Nigeria) have been the inability to detect cases and the battle against drug resistant variants of the ailment especially among people living with HIV/AIDS.
According to the global TB report 2017 released by World Health Organisation, WHO on Monday, there were an estimated 10.4 million new TB cases worldwide in 2016, 10 per cent of which were people living with HIV/AIDS.
Of these new cases, seven countries are noted to account for 64 per cent of the total burden. India topped the chart followed by Indonesia, China, Philippines, Pakistan, Nigeria and South Africa.
An estimated 1.7 million people died from TB, including nearly 400 000 people who were co-infected with HIV. The WHO said there has been a drop by 4 per cent compared to 2015.
The health agency said global efforts to combat tuberculosis had saved an estimated 53 million lives since 2000 and reduced the TB mortality rate by 37 per cent.
WHO said despite these achievements, the latest picture is grim.
It said TB remains the top infectious killer in 2016 and that it is also the main cause of deaths related to antimicrobial resistance and the leading killer of people with HIV. Progress in most countries is stalling and is not fast enough to reach global targets or close persistent gaps in TB care and prevention.
Also, according to the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme, over 80 per cent of TB cases were still undetected.
Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director General of WHO, said while the world has committed to ending the TB epidemic by 2030, actions and investments do not match the political rhetoric.
He said multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) remains a public health crisis and a health security threat.
WHO estimates that there were 600 000 new cases with resistance to rifampicin – the most effective first-line drug, of which 490 000 had MDR-TB. Almost half of these cases were in India, China and the Russian Federation.
The report argued for rigorous care and financing in tackling the epidemic especially in subset of high TB burden countries; as underreporting and under-diagnosis of TB cases continue to be a challenge, especially in countries with large unregulated private sectors and weak health systems.
Also, according to the report, of the estimated 10.4 million new cases, only 6.3 million were detected and officially notified in 2016, leaving a gap of 4.1 million. India, Indonesia and Nigeria accounted for almost half of this global gap.
Mario Raviglione, Director of the WHO Global TB Programme said ”the sheer numbers of deaths and suffering speak for themselves and countries are not accelerating fast enough.”
”Prompt action towards universal health coverage and social protection, as well as breakthroughs in research and innovations – will be critical to enable access to patient-centred care of the highest standards for all, especially the poorest, most disadvantaged people everywhere”, he said.