WHO: More efforts needed to end TB in Nigeria

World Health Organization (WHO) has urged Nigeria to redouble its efforts at checking the spread of tuberculosis infection in the country.

It said that an estimated 9.9 million people developed TB in 2020, with Nigeria having the highest burden of TB in Africa and accounting for 4.6 per cent of the Global TB burden (WHO Global TB report 2021).

In an address at 2021 National Conference on Tuberculosis which community in Abuja to the Regional Director of WHO, Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo said the emergence of COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down the progress made towards ending TB epidemic:

He there was a large global drop in number of people newly diagnosed with TB, from 7.1 million in 2019 to 5.8 million people in 2020.

According to him, a total of 16 countries accounted for 93 percent of this reduction but Nigeria was not among these countries.

“Nigeria was rather among the few countries that recorded an increase in TB notification with the notification increasing by 15 per cent in 2020.

“However, about 70 per cent of the estimated TB cases in the country in 2020 were not detected despite the increase in TB notification, this undetected TB case continues to fuel the spread of the disease in the community,’ he said.

Molumbo said as a technical partner, WHO will be supporting the National TB programme, “at all levels in the development of guidelines, adoption of new strategies, regimen and interventions in addition to building capacities and enhancing data analysis and use for optimizing performance.

“We will also support the country in the implementation of the multisectoral approach towards ending TB epidemic in Nigeria”.

He said the gathering of intellectuals at this year’s TB conference provided the country with an opportunity to come up with best practices and innovative ideas for ending the TB epidemic.

While declaring the conference open, Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire expressed optimistism that just as Nigeria has succeeded in Polio, it shall do same with TB.

He said the advent of COVID-19 pandemic and its control measures impacted many aspects of human endeavor, including Health services, and in some cases reversed gains made over the years in aspects of health programmes that affected TB control.

Ehanire said the pandemic brought 2020 global case finding levels back to 2012 level, “with an 18 percent reduction in the number of patients diagnosed with TB dropping from 7.1 million in 2019 to 5.8 million in 2020, thus setting global case finding efforts back by 8 years”.

The minister said that as soon as measures to control the pandemic were introduced, with eventual lockdown in the first and second quarter of 2020, Nigeria recorded a 30 percent reduction in GeneXpert testing in the first week of the lockdown. He said the number of notified TB cases also dropped by 17 percent from 33,119 TB cases in first quarter of 2020 to 27,353 in the second quarter of 2020.

Ehanire said the situation necessitated the “conceptualisation and implementation of innovative interventions to ensure program sustainability and mitigate impact on TB control efforts, the implementation of which resulted in an eventual 15 percent increase across the country, in the number of TB cases notified from 120,266 TB cases in 2019 to 138,591 TB cases in 2020, making us one of the few countries that recorded increased in TB notification in 2020, despite the pandemic”.. Ehanire said that key among the interventions was a strategic engagement of the private sector, introduction of targeted, data driven community TB case finding activities, integration of TB case finding in COVID-19 outreaches, active TB and integrated TB/COVID-19 case finding activities in health facilities among others. Some of these helpful practices in TB case finding will be shared during this conference, so I urge participants to attend all the sessions.

He described the choice of the theme for this year conference “sustaining a resilient TB response in Nigeria: Addressing the impact of COVID19 and other diseases” as apt.

Ehanire expressed the hope that at the end of the three-day conference, enough evidence would have been gathered and new knowledge generated to help the Global TB control efforts reverse the negative impact of the pandemic and other diseases on TB control efforts.

Source: This Day Live

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By Onyebuchi Ezigbo

Published: Nov. 10, 2021, 7:40 p.m.

Last updated: Nov. 21, 2021, 7:47 p.m.

Tags: TB programs

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