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‘Stigmatisation, myth hampering TB control in Nigeria’

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The National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP) has disclosed that stigmatisation, myth and misconceptions are challenges hampering efforts to eradicate Tuberculosis (TB) in the country.

Its Head of Communications and Social Mobilisation, Itohowo Uko, made the assertion while speaking at a virtual TB media roundtable, saying only 26 per cent of estimated TB cases in Nigeria had been identified.

She explained that the cases had been put on treatment and that there was an overflow of 74 per cent of the estimated cases still within the communities.

Uko noted that at least, three of four persons suffering from tuberculosis were yet to access health care in the country, stressing that one case of untreated TB actually affects 15 other people within one year.

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“Nigeria can see what that means for the country to have seen a huge number of TB patients still unidentified and not treated in the communities. Many people are still not aware of tuberculosis and some do not even believe that tuberculosis is real.

“Issues of myth and misconceptions had posed serious challenges in the transmission of the disease actually affecting the health behaviour of people in the communities. Even the health workers themselves sometimes don’t actually believe in the transmission,” she stated.

Uko maintained that the COVID-19 pandemic, which she described as the current normal, had impacted negatively on the initial health-seeking behaviour of most Nigerians and adherence by those already placed on treatment.

Chairman, Board of Stop TB Partnership Nigeria, Ayodele Awe, stated that Nigeria had the fourth highest TB cases in the world after India, Pakistan and Indonesia and the highest in Africa.

On his part, Deputy Director, Health Orientation and Communication, National Orientation Agency (NOA), Dr. Olufemi Ayoola, said awareness about TB in Nigeria was low, while there was poor perception of TB.

He, therefore, stressed the need for all stakeholders to come together to ensure increased awareness about the disease.

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