WHO: 300,000 undetected TB cases driving new infections

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified the undetected 300,000 cases of tuberculosis (TB) in Nigeria as a major challenge hindering efforts to eradicate the killer disease from the country and the world at large.

Also, the world body has called for the active involvement of the private sector in TB control programme nationwide.

The Country Representative of (WHO) in Nigeria, Dr. Wondimagegnehu Alemu who disclosed this in Lagos recently, said out of the estimated 400,000 TB cases in the country, only 100,000 cases have been reported, leaving the 300,000 missing (undetected) cases in various Nigerian communities, thereby increasing the risk of spread of the infectious disease. In Lagos State out of the three expected TB cases, two are similarly missed.

Wondimagegnehu said this at the Public Private Mix (PPM) Summit for Tuberculosis Control in Nigeria taking place in Lagos from Monday, 3rd September to 4th.

Similarly, available records show that there was significant gap in multi-drug resistant (MDR)/rifampicin (RR) TB case detection as 89 per cent or 17,714 of the estimated MDR/RR-TB cases are undetected and only 78 per cent of diagnosed MDR TB cases were enrolled in treatment in 2017.

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease usually caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium (MTB) TB generally affects the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body. Most infections do not have symptoms, in which case it is known as latent TB

About 10 per cent of latent infections progress to active disease which, if left untreated, kills about half of those infected. The classic symptoms of active TB are a chronic cough with blood-containing sputum, fever, night sweats and weight loss.

The PPM summit was organised by the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) in collaboration with the WHO, Stop TB Partnership Nigeria and the Tuberculosis Control Programme in Lagos State.

Among experts that attended the summit are Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, Chief Medical Director of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Prof. Chris Bode, the Medical Director of Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital Yaba, Dr. Oluwayemi Ogun; Lawanson Adebola, National coordinator, National TB, Leprosy & Buruli Ulcer Control Programme, Prof. Loveth Lawson of the Bingham University, among others.

Available data shows that 14 per cent of private health institutions were collaborating with the National TB control programmes, and only one in five, an equivalent of 19 per cent TB cases are being managed at private health facilities.

Involving the private sector would ensure that the vision of reaching more Nigerians that were affected by TB and those at risk of infection, could be reached this 2018 and beyond.

Wondimagegnehu who was represented by Dr. Lynda Ozor, said expanding quality TB diagnostic coverage nationwide was necessary as a measure to stop the spread of new TB infections.

He also called for the optimisation of the existing gene Xpert diagnostic machine (390). This is a a diagnostic tool that has high sensitivity in diagnosing TB.

WHO country representative in Nigeria, charged all the stakeholders in the country to increase awareness of general public about TB so that they could report to health facilities when they experience the cardinal sign of chronic cough.

The Commissioner for Health in Lagos State, Dr. Jide Idris said most of the challenges of TB control has to do with funding, which could be resolved. “There are huge resources in the private sector; we wish to tap into these to drive out TB from our country, ” he said.

To achieve the goal of ending TB by 2030, Idris said the Lagos State Government has engaged more private health providers to provide quality TB to all patients in need of services.”This PPM summit is therefore organised to engage the private sector and mobilize additional resources to end TB in Nigeria.

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