Despite being a vaccine-preventable disease, around 245,000 Nigerians die from Tuberculosis (TB) every year, data from the World Health Organisation shows.
Tuberculosis is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that often affect the lungs.
It is spread from person to person through the air. When people with tuberculosis cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air. Uninfected people nearby can breathe in the TB bacteria and get infected.
Nigeria is ranked first in Africa and sixth globally amongst countries with high TB burden, according to the 2020 WHO Global TB report
Africa’s most populous nation is also on the list of 14 countries with the triple burden of TB, HIV associated TB and multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB).
To create awareness about the impact of TB, World Tuberculosis Day is marked on March 24 every year.
The day is to raise public awareness about the health, social and economic consequences of TB, and to step up efforts to end the global epidemic
The theme of World TB Day 2021 is ‘The Clock is Ticking’ and Nigeria’s localised slogan is: ‘That cough fit be Tuberculosis not COVID, check am o.’
The theme is a wake-up call for Nigeria to accelerate TB response to reach the set targets in the 2021-2025 National TB Strategic Plan, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative in Nigeria, Walter Mulombo, said on Tuesday.
Here are a few tips to prevent the spread of TB.
Bacilli Calmette-Guerin (BCG) is the vaccine for the prevention of TB and often administered to children at birth. However, there are some exceptional cases where people who had received the vaccines still get infected with the disease.
Health experts believe the vaccine would only reduce the severity of the disease if contacted because some people already have latent TB.
Avoid going close to people coughing
Maintaining a safe distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing prevents one from contracting the disease. As TB is an airborne infection, TB bacteria are released into the air when someone with infectious TB coughs or sneezes and infects a nearby person.
Use a face mask
In healthcare settings, the spread of TB is reduced through the use of protective masks, ventilation systems, and keeping potentially infectious patients separate from other patients. Regular use of face masks can prevent one from contracting the disease and also prevent infected persons from spreading the disease.
Having a healthy immune system
Having a healthy immune system is the best form of defence against TB and other diseases. About 60 per cent of adults with a healthy immune system may never get infected with tuberculosis.
Avoid large gatherings
If you have TB or regular cough, avoid visiting people or public places. Spend as little time as possible in places where large numbers of people gather. If possible, sleep alone in a separate, adequately ventilated room and spend as little time as possible on public transport.
Cover your mouth when coughing
Always cover your nose and mouth with your bent elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze to prevent spreading the TB bacteria. Proper disposal of the tissues will also reduce potential spread of the virus.
Avoid coughing into your hands
If you have TB or you might have TB, avoid coughing into your hands. And if you have coughed into your hands, wash them immediately using soap and water.
If you have been coughing for two weeks, seek medical attention.
Early diagnosis and treatment is the most effective way to prevent the spread of tuberculosis. A person with TB can infect up to 10–15 other people per year. TB treatment might involve taking a number of medications for 6 to 12 months. It is important to take all of your medications as prescribed – even if you feel better.
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