Nigeria achieves commendable results in fight against tuberculosis amid coronavirus pandemic

NIGERIA – Nigeria has seen an increase in annual tuberculosis (TB) case notification due to strategic intervention by the National Tuberculosis, Buruli Ulcer and Leprosy Control Program (NTBLCP), in collaboration with World Health Organization (WHO) and other stakeholders working on TB control and elimination in Nigeria.

In 2020 a total of 138,591 cases were notified;15 % higher compared to 106,533 and 120,266cases notified in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

Also, comparing first quarters of 2019, 2020, 2021 case notification are 28,823, 33,132 and 43,838 (32% increase in Q1 2021 compared to Q1 2020) respectively.

Commending the collaborating organizations for their efforts, the National Coordinator, NTBLCP, Dr Chukwuemeka Anyike, says “the country is very impressed with the 2020 program performance despite the COVID-19 pandemic”.

He echoed that active TB case finding is vital in reducing the burden of the disease in the country because Nigeria has over 440,000 incident TB cases, and over 300,000 are estimated to be missed annually.

In other climes, when the pandemic triggered lockdowns in March 2020, diagnosis and enrollment for TB treatment fell in many high TB burden countries.  In Nigeria, the key component of the intervention began in the second quarter of the 2020 with WHO and partners integrating TB case finding into the COVID-19 structure.

The response included training TB case officers’ /community informants on advocacy, house-to-house case search, contact tracing, and social mobilization for Tuberculosis and COVID 19.

Effort to locate TB and Covid-19 cases included screening program, laboratory services engagement with key community stakeholders in the 12 states, and services in the health facilities were intensified in collaboration with USAID-KNCV, using Genexpert and the ‘WOW’ Trucks.

This is as WHO is also joining partners, civil society and affected people & communities around the world in calling for increased and sustained investments in TB vaccine development.

In an open letter, Dr. Tereza Kasaeva, director, WHO Global TB Programme, addressed the need to have a vaccine that is functional to adults and adolescents as well.

The only existing vaccine, BCG was developed in 1921, 100 years ago and it is only most effective when administered during infancy stage.

Worldwide, TB is one of the top 10 causes of death and the leading cause from a single infectious agent (above HIV/AIDS).

In 2019, an estimated 10 million people fell ill with tuberculosis (TB) worldwide. 5.6 million men, 3.2 million women and 1.2 million children. TB is present in all countries and age groups.

A total of 7,163 TB cases were reported during 2020 (2.2 cases per 100,000 persons), 20% fewer than during 2019 (2.7 cases per 100,000 persons).

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