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Tuberculosis worse than COVID-19, experts declare

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Say disease kills 18 Nigerians hourly, seek improved funding
Experts have cautioned that Nigeria should take necessary action to tackle the tuberculosis (TB) in the country, saying the disease is worse than coronavirus.

They argued that while countries were advocating big emergency funds to tackle Covid-19, the nation should be aware that TB is a more dangerous and fatal disease.

The experts who spoke at this year’s Pre-World TB media briefing in Abuja yesterday, said available data revealed that while coronavirus kills about 60 people daily, TB kills over 3,000 people daily.

Country Representative Officer, KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation Nigeria, Dr. Betrand Odume, lamented the country’s high TB burden, saying 18 Nigerians die from the disease on an hourly basis.

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He said 49 Nigerians develop active TB, seven of which are children every hour, adding that a major challenge of TB response in Nigeria was attributed to low TB case findings in adult and children.

“This is as a result of low TB treatment coverage and poor knowledge about TB that influence the health seeking behaviour of people,” he said.

Head of TB unit, World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr. Ayodele, lamented huge funding gaps in the treatment of the disease in Nigeria, saying a larger part of the funds come from a United States aid agency.

He said although there was no link between TB and coronavirus, the former makes people more vulnerable because it was a lung disease.

National Coordinator, National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP), Burulli Ulcer, said undetected TB cases constitute a pool for its continuous transmission.

According to her, Nigeria is among the 10 counties that account for 75 per cent of global gap between treatment enrollment and estimated number of new cases of multi-drug resistance TB in 2018.

She added that intensive efforts were required to improve the level of detected TB cases, access to diagnosis and treatment.

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