Nigeria moves to locate, enrol 200,000 undetected yearly TB cases
• Seeks better notification, unveils compendium of best practices
The Federal Government, yesterday, said the significant progress achieved in the last three years in the fight against tuberculosis (TB), Nigeria still records 200,000 new infections yearly.
Noting that these new cases are yet to be detected and enrolled for treatment, Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who spoke at the launch of the Compendium of Tuberculosis Best Practices by the National Tuberculosis, Buruli Ulcer and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP) in Abuja, stressed the need for government to step up commitment and invest strategically across the board to improve best practices.
He observed that at the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, there was 18 per cent drop in the number of TB cases diagnosed and notified globally, from 7.1 million in 2019 to 5.8 million in 2020.
Ehanire added that during the period, fatalities increased considerably due to reduced attention to the treatment of patients.
He said Nigeria, as with many other nations, suffered the impact of COVID-19, with negative socioeconomic trends and health service disruptions following the introduction of lockdowns in the second quarter of 2020.
The minister submitted that TB testing was reduced by about 30 per cent, resulting in 17 per cent decrease in case finding and notification.
He, nevertheless, acknowledged that the implementation of innovative strategic interventions put in place by tuberculosis programme managers, including integration of TB control into COVID-19 response measures, eventually led to a 15 per cent increase in TB notification, from 120,266 cases in 2019 to 138,591 in 2020.
The development, Ehanire pointed out, made Nigeria one of the few countries in the world to record an increase in TB case notification during the pandemic.
Also speaking, Deputy Chief of Party for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded LON 3 Project, Ayodele Iroko, remarked that the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) “is breaking through in Lagos and with the state Ministry of Education. IHVN has raised a workforce to find missing TB cases in schools, and is also integrating TB messages in churches and mosques through religious leaders.”
She said the institute had recruited non-healthcare providers to locate the undetected infections and put them on treatment while building support and reducing stigma for a strong response in the country.