Dr Adebola Lawanson, the National Coordinator, National Tuberculosis Buruli Ulcer and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP), has disclosed that out of every estimated 100 persons with Tuberculosis, only 24 are detected in Nigeria.
Lawanson made this known on Thursday during a three-day media training workshop organised by NTBLCP in collaboration with TB Breakthrough Action Nigeria, an NGO, in Akwanga, Nasarawa State.
Represented by Mrs Omolola Shofowora, she said that the data meant that Nigeria was missing an estimated 76 per cent of its citizens with Tuberculosis (TB) who live and work with us day-to-day.
She disclosed that Nigeria was classified among the 30 countries with high burden of TB, multi drug resistant-TB and TB/HIV globally, stressing that Nigeria was first with highest burden of TB in Africa.
“TB is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide; one case of untreated Pulmonary TB can infect 10 to 15 persons per year.
“Low awareness on TB and misconceptions among other reasons are responsible for the high missing cases in Nigeria.
“Coupled with the fact that there is low awareness on TB in Nigeria; it is surprising that even in the health sector there are people who think that TB has been eradicated.
“This misconception is due to the fact that the right information on TB has not reached them, and because of this low awareness, the NTBLCP across the country gets few people coming for TB treatment.
“The low awareness has also affected the health habits of some Nigerians, in the sense that some Nigerians prefer to go to patent medicine stores with complaints of cough including TB,’’ the national coordinator said.
She explained that patent medicine stores are not empowered to provide TB testing and treatment at the moment.
According to her, another challenge with TB control is myth and misconception about the ailment; most people believe that TB kills; therefore they do not go to health facilities to access treatment.
“Unlike other diseases, TB is curable, but because of the misconception some Nigerians have about it they prefer to live and die with it.
“This misconception that `TB kills’ also leads to stigma because some people infected by the disease are afraid to show-up for treatment due to stigma,’’ she said.
The official was optimistic that with collaboration with the media and other key stakeholders’ adequate and accurate information would reach more Nigerians on TB, thereby creating more demand for the services.
She solicited for media support to overcome the challenges towards increasing awareness on TB, hence the media capacity building workshop.
Dr Joseph Edor, Senior Programme Officer II, TB Breakthrough Action Nigeria, said his organisation was supporting NTBLCP with a social and behavioural change approach to improving TB case findings.
Edor said TB Breakthrough Action Nigeria was a USAID-funded project.
He added that the project employed the `Human Centered Design’ as an innovative way of increasing TB case finding in the country.
“The human centred design is an approach that tries to look at how we can understand the problem from the user’s perspective. In addition, it is a mindset and a process.
“So, we talk to the patients, TB stakeholders, and the donors as well,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Tuberculosis, otherwise known as TB, is an airborne infectious disease caused by the germ Mycobacterium Tuberculosis that affects the lungs mainly but may affect any other part of the body.
TB is spread through the air when the person with TB of the lungs coughs, sneezes, sings or talks.
Persistent cough of two weeks or more duration may be due to TB and needs to be further investigated.
Other signs of TB of the lungs are loss of weight when you are not trying to lose weight, drenching night sweats when others close by are not sweating like that and loss of appetite.
TB is curable and the patient is not infectious after few weeks on treatment. (NAN)