In a bid to find the missing Tuberculosis (TB) cases deepens, experts in the health sector have decried the low level of TB awareness in Nigeria saying, only 25 per cent of Nigerians have knowledge about the ailment.
Speaking during a Pre-World TB Day Press Briefing in Abuja on Thursday, the Head of the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Chukwuemeka Anyaike said, TB remains one of the world’s deadliest infectious killers.
Dr Anyaike also said another factor that contributed to few people coming out for the treatment is stigma.
He called on the media to help in educating Nigerians, especially the relations of the affected persons, to bring them for treatment.
“Poor awareness creation is a big factor hindering the fight against TB in Nigeria. TB knowledge in Nigeria is low; it is 25 per cent of the populace that have knowledge about tuberculosis.
“We want people to know what the disease is all about thereby erasing the wrong and misinformed knowledge about the disease.
“Stigma and discrimination is also a big challenge. So many people do not want to be identify with TB. We also need to expand our diagnosis platform”, Dr Anyaike said.
Earlier, the Ag. Board Chairman of Stop TB Partnership Nigeria, Dr. Queen Ogbuji in her remarks said, an estimated 18 people die every hour of TB related diseases.
According to her, what this means is that 432 people die every day and over 156,000 die every year of TB in Nigeria.
While stressing that the theme got theme for the 2022 World TB Day, “Invest to End TB. Save Lives” is apt, she called on all those involved in the fight against TB to sound the alarm about the low funding of cases.
“The Stop TB Partnership and all partners are calling on all those involved in the fight against TB to andunite under this overarching theme sound the alarm that the low levels of funding for the TB response year after year cannot continue nor be accepted anymore. Globally, of the US$15 billion annual funding for TB control in Nigeria in the year 2020, only 31% was available to all the implementers of TB Control activities in Nigeria (7% domestic and 24% donor funds), with 69% funding gap. World leaders including government at the national and sub national levels must step up and triple or quadruple the funding to save lives and end TB by 2030.
She also called for acceleration of efforts to end the global TB epidemic.
She said that TB remains one of the world’s deadliest infectious killers and each day, about 4,100 people lose their lives to TB and nearly 30,000 people fall ill with the preventable and curable disease.
“TB is the leading cause of death of people with HIV and a major contributor to antimicrobial resistance. Global efforts to combat TB have saved an estimated 66 million lives since the year 2000. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has reversed years of progress made in the fight to end TB. For the first time in over a decade, TB deaths increased in 2020. This World TB Day is an opportunity to focus on the people affected by this disease and to call for accelerated action to end TB suffering and deaths, especially in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic”. Dr Ogbuji said.
She also pointed out that more investment in TB will save millions more lives, and accelerate the end of the TB epidemic.
She also called on the Stop TB Partnership and all partners and all those involved in the fight against TB to unite under the theme and sound the alarm that the low levels of funding for the TB response year after year cannot continue nor be accepted anymore.
“The theme for 2022 World TB Day is “Invest to End TB. Save Lives”. And the slogan for Nigeria is “Give More, Do more, End TB Now!” The theme – ‘Invest to End TB. Save Lives’ – conveys the urgent need to invest resources to ramp up the fight against TB and achieve the commitments to end TB made by global leaders. This is especially critical in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic that has put End TB progress at risk, and to ensure equitable access to prevention and care in line with the drive towards achieving Universal Health Coverage”. She added.