Ignorance contributes to the spread of tuberculosis in Nigeria. This was revealed by the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Program.
The futility in the fight against TB in Nigeria was blamed on lack of knowledge of the disease among patients and health workers.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) reckons that every year, about 245,000 Nigerians die from TB, and about 590,000 new cases are found out.
The National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Program revealed that ignorance among Nigerians has contributed greatly to the 302,467 missing cases of tuberculosis out of the 409,000 cases that is supposed to be identified annually.
The National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Program now calls for more awareness and education program.
The Head of Communication and Social Mobilisation, National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP), Mrs Itohowo Uko, reached out to Nigerians at a virtual media parley conducted by the Stop TB Partnership in Nigeria to table a future factor.
Mrs Uko said that a case of untreated TB infection can infect more than 15 other persons within one year.
“The issue of myths and misconceptions poses serious challenges on the transmission of the disease; it is affecting the health behaviour of people who are in the communities.
“Factors such as discrimination, poor information on the disease, stigma and fear of association have prevented so many people from seeking treatments.’’ She said.
Mrs Uko announced that only about 26 per cent of the estimated TB cases are identified in Nigeria.
According to Dr. Ayodele Awe, the Acting Board Chairman of Stop TB Partnership in Nigeria, Nigeria has the highest tuberculosis burden in Africa and we are about 4th or 5th in the whole world after India, Pakistan, and Indonesia.
He also said that public awareness and general health worker knowledge on tuberculosis is insufficient and that only about 27percent of health workers in Nigeria have adequate knowledge of Tuberculosis, despite the life-threatening and infectious nature the disease.
‘‘If the health worker does not know that every possible cough could be a case of TB and does not ask the relevant questions, then cases will be missed by the health facility, and the patient will end up developing multidrug resistance.”
The Head, Risk Control of the NCDC, Yahaya Disu, said, “COVID-19 has attracted the attention of policymakers to the health sector.
However, COVID-19 will not be here forever, but TB has been here for over 100 years and it has been a problem. We must seize this opportunity to effect some changes. There are lessons we can learn from COVID-19 and see how we can translate that to TB.” He advised.