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Tuberculosis to claim 432 Nigerians daily as COVID-19 deaths decrease

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Tuberculosis


•23 million children miss basic vaccines
•‘Why defective babies in poor countries have low survival rate’

Medical experts have warned that as the population of people vaccinated against COVID-19 grows, the number of deaths with the virus will decrease but tuberculosis (TB) would keep killing 432 Nigerians and 4,000 others across the globe on a daily basis.

The professionals noted that though the novel coronavirus claimed most lives last year, they, however, pointed out that TB deaths outclassed COVID-19 deeds in low and middle-income countries.

The medics nevertheless admitted that the pandemic severely disrupted TB responses, stalling and reversing progress made over the years.

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Briefing reporters on the 2021 National TB Conference billed for November, Executive Director, KNCV Nigeria and Chair, Central Planning Committee, Dr. Bethrand Odume observed that tuberculosis patients were more vulnerable to other infections and COVID-19 complications owning to existing lung damage.

He stressed that Nigeria remained one of the 10 high-burden nations for “TB, TB/HIV and multi-drug resistant (MDR)-TB in 2021”, according to the Global TB Report by World Health Organisation (WHO) which estimated the country’s cases at 440,000, with only 117,320 of the figure diagnosed and notified.

Odume regretted the 75 per cent of patients being missed yearly and the increasing gap in access to TB services by the pediatric population and other vulnerable groups. He said funding constraints have remained a major challenge towards ending the ailment in the country.

While deploring the 70 per cent funding gap in TB services in Nigeria, the executive director submitted that financing of the disease had been largely driven by external funding sources over the years.

In 2020, he said, it was estimated that implementation of the National Strategic Plan (NSP) for tuberculosis required about $384 million, but only 30 per cent of the money (seven per cent domestic and 23 per cent donor funds) was available to all implementers.

To overcome the challenge, he stressed the need for access to research, technologies, innovations and partnerships for TB control in Nigeria.

Also speaking, Acting Chairman, Stop TB Partnership Nigeria, Dr. Ayodele Awe, agreed with Odume that coronavirus has had short and long-term disruptive impact on health services in the country due prolonged periods of lockdown, as treatment interruption bred drug-resistance besides stigmatisation of healthcare workers and clients among others.

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IN a related development, a new report by WHO and the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has shown that 23 million children missed out on basic childhood vaccines in 2020, the highest since 2009 and 3.7 million more than the tally of 2019.

According to the document, up to 17 million children likely did not receive a single vaccine during the year, thus widening existing inequality in vaccine access.

ALSO yesterday, a study, published in The Lancet journal, offered reasons why babies born with defects in Nigeria and low-income nations have higher chances of dying compared to those delivered in developed countries.

Conducted by scientists from 74 nations, including medical doctors from the National Hospital Abuja, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba and University College Hospital (UCH) Ibadan, the survey highlighted the importance of care received before or after the corrective operations at surgical centres.

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The researchers found out that babies treated at hospitals without access to ventilation and intravenous nutrition had higher chances of dying. Furthermore, not having skilled anaesthetic support and lack of a surgical safety checklist at the time of operation were also identified.

The National Lead, Dr. Taiwo Lawal, who is of the UCH, Ibadan, emphasised the need for stakeholders and policy drivers to seize the occasion to check the widening gap between the global north and south by reducing unmet surgical needs of children.

The Principal Investigator, Dr. Naomi Wright, said: “Geography should not determine outcomes for babies who have correctable surgical conditions.”

Global Project Steering Committee Member and Chief Consultant Paediatrics Surgeon at the National Hospital, Abuja, Prof. Emmanuel Ameh, said improving survival in low- and middle-income countries involves three key elements: enhancing antenatal diagnosis and delivery at a hospital with children’s surgical care; improving care for babies born at primary and secondary care facilities, with safe and quick transfer to a tertiary surgical centre; and improved care for babies at the surgical centre.
Chief of Paediatrics Surgery at LUTH, Prof. Adesoji Ademuyiwa, challenged leaders at the federal, state and local government levels to prioritise surgical needs of children.

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