18 People Die Every Hour As A Result Of Tuberculosis In Nigeria – Report
Written by Tonia Uchola on May 18, 2021
A recent statistical finding from a Non Governmental Organization, Breakthrough Action, has revealed that no fewer than 18 persons die because of Tuberculosis (TB) every hour in Nigeria.
The NGO who decried that Nigeria is pathetically ranked 1st in TB burden in Africa and number 6 globally, added that the country is also on the list of the 14 countries with the triple burden of TB worldwide.
Speaking through a webinar organized for media practitioners from 7 States of the Federation on the need for more awareness in TB , the organizers said there are 69% of TB patients in the communities, adding that: “One patient of TB puts very many at risk if not treated in good time”.
Continuing, Breakthrough Action quoted global TB report of 2019 as saying: “150,000 Nigerians died of TB in that year with an additional 47 Nigerians developung active TB every hour”.
While noting that the 5 hour webinar organized for 7 States of the federation was geared towards building the capacity of media personnel on using human angle stories about TB with the aim of generating more positive actions, Breakthrough Action said it will also enable journalists to understand the differences between TB and Covid 19 as well as how to identify the differences in the symptoms.
After staying that TB is a an airborne disease that is caused by the germ called mycobacterium the NGO affirmed that it can be spread through the air when the person with TB of the lungs cough, sneezes, sings or talks.
“Common symptoms include persistent cough (two weeks or more) loss of weight, night sweat, low fever. TB is curable and diagnosis and treatment for TB patients are free in all government hospitals”.
“Earlier detection and treatment is key to quick recovery from the disease just as a patient is not infectious two weeks in treatment”
While appealing to people to desist from stigmatizing against those that have TB, Breakthrough Action added that they should rather encourage them to complete their treatment as they could get better after two months into the treatment of 5 months.
While giving a toll free number of 3340 for all to call in case of any suspected TB, Breakthrough Action said “There is also the need for early TB case finding, notification, and treatment”.
Meanwhile, a statistics by the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicate that Tuberculosis, a pulmonary disease characterised by persistent coughing, killed more Nigerians in 2019 than the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2020 WHO ‘global tuberculosis report’ stated that an estimated 150,000 Nigerians died of TB in 2019 alone while the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said 2,061 persons died of COVID-19 in the country since the index case in February 2020.
The different data suggest that COVID-19 has so far killed only about 1.4 per cent of the number killed by TB in 2019 alone.
The WHO report on TB said Nigeria has one of the highest numbers of people dying from the disease, “but only 31 per cent of the affected population has so far registered for treatment.
An official of the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP), Ebere Okoh, said the outbreak of COVID-19 last year has worsened the situation of the disease in Nigeria as patients suffering from the disease did not get access to medical treatment due to the lockdown.
Mrs Okoh said, “2020 WHO Global Tuberculosis Report indicated that an estimated 150,000 people have died in Nigeria as a result of the disease in 2019 alone.”
She said the WHO report also revealed that 47 per cent of Nigerians who develop active TB infection are children.
The NTBLCP official stated that even though TB is more deadly than COVID-19, the Nigerian media still focus more attention on the pandemic.
“Sadly, the knowledge of TB transmission, its symptoms and prevention is still very low. One case of untreated pulmonary TB can infect 10-15 persons in a year,” she told journalists connected to the virtual training.
Mrs Okoh said while the pandemic continues to get the media attention, TB, being a worse killer disease, should also be given publicity to save lives.
“If we must kick out TB in Nigeria, the media must partner with officials of NTBLCP and other health officials in advocacy and increased budgetary provision for the TB control programme.
A health official, Jumoke Adebari, said TB and COVID-19 share similar features and means of transmission.
“While COVID-19 is an instant killer, TB kills slowly, even though both have an equal capacity of spreading through coughing,” she said.
Nigeria ranks seventh among 30 high TB burden countries and second in Africa.
In the meantime, a TB survivor, Mrs Tope Adams, said in her battle to get cured of TB, she took over 500 injections and an estimated 5000 drugs in a space of six to seven years (2004-2011).
According to her, three things that helped her win the battle; include good food, rest and the right drugs.
She said her battle with the TB started sometimes in 2004 when she discovered that she was coughing for a long time.
She explained that the battle to get cured of TB got to its climax when she got a bed space at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Oyo State.
She insisted that TB is preventable and curable when the right channeled are followed.
“In March 2004, I started feeling ill, I went home for something, when I was coming back from a journey, and I discovered that I was coughing all the way from Ibadan to Akure.
“I didn’t think it was anything serious and I went to the local drug store and took all kinds of medicine. After the semester I went back home, got to the hospital and I was asked to carry out some test and TB was confirmed and the doctor said the treatment was six months and I needed to take the drugs-about four kinds of drugs then.
“I did that from August till March. You know when you are in school; you don’t feed well, lecturers and all that. I wasn’t religious on taking the drugs and there was a relapse and that was what brought me to Jericho Health Centre in Ibadan in 2004.
“There I faced stigma and I was referred to the closest Dot Centre around me. I did that for 8 months. It was that time I went for service in 2008. I took injection for two months and 8 months continuation phase but towards the end of the eight months, it still came out positive.
“I kept moving from a Dot Centre, private clinic like that because they kept telling me that these drugs are not working and that they can’t keep giving me what is not working.
But I kept taking it having faith that one of them is working for me. And the public centres refused to give me the drugs; I then go to private centres,” Mrs Adams recalled.
While noting that at a point, there was no money to buy drugs which led to her family to sell their property in order the raise the money, Mrs Adams said: “We needed money to get these drugs and since my father had passed on, we had to sell our land worth over 4 million naira around 2008.
She added that it got much worse in 2009, after she started coughing out blood and went back to see her doctor at the UCH who advised that her sample to be sent to the Zankli Hospital in Abuja, which the result also came out positive.
“In June 2010, I went back to UCH and told them to still give me the drug that I am sure that something in one of the drugs is working for me. The doctor started giving me the drugs again.
“In July 2, 2010, I went back to the hospital again and they told me that there is a space for me in one of the Centres at the UCH and they told me to come the next Monday for admission.
“I did not need any body to encourage me. I went home, packed my clothes as if I was travelling and went to hospital to go and stay for the next six months.
Then, I was already slim. I was weighing 40kg by the time I got to the hospital. I was desperate to get well. I took the injection for seven months. They told me that the treatment will be for 24 months.
“In July 2010, I started the drugs. Those who know the drugs know that it is not a joke. The injection is very painful and you have to take it every day.
“Since I had been going in and out of Dot centres, I had taken so many injections already. If I am to calculate the injections I took, they will be up over 500 and the drugs will be like 5000.
“So, going forward, I started seeing improvement. The first week, I gained three kilograms and it went on and on.
“When I was leaving the hospital to go home and continue with the outpatient treatment, I was weighing 62kg. People thought I travelled out of the country.
“I am grateful because as soon I completed the drugs, I was made to understand that the drugs are toxic.”
She applauded the Nigeria TB programme and all stakeholders and called on them to do more at the community level in the area awareness creation.
She advised the stakeholders to go to churches and mosques and relate the message about the dangers of TB, reiterating that “Treatment and follow up too is very important.