The Federal Government announced that, despite recent progress in the previous three years in the war on tuberculosis (TB), Nigeria still records 200,000 new infections each year.
Minister of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who delivered a speech at the launch of the Compendium of Tuberculosis Best Practices by the National Tuberculosis, Buruli Ulcer and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP) in Abuja, made it clear that while these new cases have not been detected or enrolled for medication, the government must increase devotion and strategically invest across the board to enhance best practices.
The minister also noted that at the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, there was an 18% decline in TB diagnoses and notifications globally, from 7.1 million cases in 2019 to 5.8 million cases in 2020.
Dr. Ehanire noted that mortality rates rose significantly due to a decreased focus on the treatment of patients during this time period.
Nigeria, like other countries throughout Africa, was hit hard by COVID-19, with a decline in economic development and health service disruptions following the enactment of movement restrictions in the first half of 2020.
The minister stated that TB testing declined by about 30%, leading to a 17% reduction in case identification and notification.
The minister, however, noted that the implementation of creative strategic initiatives put in place by TB program managers, such as COVID-19 response measures integration, eventually resulted in a 15 percent rise in TB detection from 120,266 cases in 2019 to 138,591 cases in 2020.
Ehanire said Nigeria is one of the few nations on the globe to have reported an increase in TB case notification during the pandemic as a result of the enacted measures.
Speaking further, Ayodele Iroko, Deputy Chief of Party for the United States Agency for International Development-sponsored LON 3 Project in Lagos, Nigeria, noted that “the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) is experiencing breakthrough in Lagos and with the state Ministry of Education. “IHVN is working to find missing TB cases in schools and is also enlisting religious leaders to spread TB enlightenment.”
She stated that the institution had enlisted non-healthcare providers to find and treat infections that were undetected while developing support and reducing stigma for a robust reaction throughout the country.