The National Tuberculosis, Buruli, Ulcer and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP), has said that investment in tuberculosis and increasing the number of TB diagnosis platforms in Nigeria would help in curbing the transmission, and eventually eliminate the diseasee from the country.
National Coordinator NTBLCP, Dr Chukwuma Anyaike who spoke at the bi-weekly media briefing at the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), on COVID-19 and other infectious diseases in the country, stressed that various channels were being opened to tackle the rising cases of TB but most especially, to track down and identify all missing TB cases for treatment.
While noting that 207,000 new cases were identified in 2021 which shows that there was a 50 percent increment to the 138,591 TB new cases identified in 2020, he lamented that out of the 207,000 new cases, it was realised that children were being behind and they were lots of TB resistant cases.
He said: “We should invest more on tuberculosis to save lives. We need to increase our diagnostic platforms
“At the moment we have 40% diagnosis coverage and we’ve been able to establish that it helped us in half of the cases we were able to service last year. That means that if we increase our investment on the diagnosis platform, we are sure way of getting more cases and placing them on treatment which absolutely is the sure way of cutting the chain of transmission and eliminating tuberculosis from Nigeria.”
Dr. Chukwuma further noted that the management of TB in children was characterized by difficulties due to both peculiarities of children and the disease saying, “With detailed clinical assessment and examination of necessary specimen, in addition to strict adherence to the guidelines of the national TB control program, more cases of TB in children can be prevented, diagnosed, treated and reported.”
According to him, the capacities of pediatricians and medical officers were being built in the country, to improve early diagnosis and prompt treatment of childhood TB.
“We are improving clinical diagnosis by the introduction of portable digital chest x-ray machines with artificial intelligence. The Global Fund is supporting this with USAID. The drug formula for the children has been improved. The programme was also collaborating with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, to improve on BCG immunization of children. This is to primarily protect them from TB, Leprosy and even Buruli ulcer in the country.”
Director General, Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Ifedayo Adetifa wh also gave an update on his agency’s efforts to contain disease outbreaks in the country, noted that system ls was urgently needed to successfully identify an epidemic at the earliest possible stage, through complete and timely reported data.
Adetifa who said the number of suspected cases of Lassa fever thus far reported this year was higher that the numbers reported same period in 2021, appealed to health workers in the country to maintain a high index of suspicion through vigilance as all fevers were not Malaria.