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Nigeria joins the world in commemorating World Tuberculosis Day 2018

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Today, March 24, Nigeria joins the world to commemorate the World Tuberculosis Day (WTBD) 2018, marked each year to raise public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of tuberculosis (TB) and to step up efforts to end the global TB epidemic. The date marks the day in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the bacterium that causes TB, which opened the way towards diagnosing and curing this disease.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), TB continues to be the most fatal infectious disease worldwide, claiming over 4,500 lives daily and 1.8 million deaths in 2016 alone. While anyone can contract TB, the disease thrives among people living in poverty, communities and groups that are marginalized, and other vulnerable populations. TB remains a major public health problem in Nigeria.  In fact, Nigeria is one of seven countries accounting for 64% of these new TB cases and among the top 30 high burden MDR-TB countries globally.  The emergence of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) poses an increased health security threat and could risk gains made in the fight against the disease.

FHI 360 remains a committed stakeholder in the global fight against TB, and our approach to integrate services and reduce stigma is woven, regardless of sector, throughout all of FHI 360’s programs. In Nigeria, FHI 360 contributes to TB eradication through its USAID funded Strengthening Integrated Delivery of HIV/AIDS Services (SIDHAS) project.  SIDHAS, works to integrate TB and HIV into health service delivery in Nigeria and ensure that people living with HIV, who are more susceptible to TB infection, have access to TB screening, prevention and treatment services.  SIDHAS also partners with the Federal Ministry of Health to commemorate World TB Day every year.

In line with this year’s theme, Wanted: Leaders for a TB-free World, the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) carefully selected a national theme for this year’s event: Find and Notify all TB Cases. This is designed to raise public awareness of the disease and the efforts Nigeria has made to prevent and treat it. At a pre-event briefing held on March 15th 2018, the FMOH emphasized the importance of eradicating TB in Nigeria stating that country accounts for 48% of global TB deaths among HIV-negative people and for 43% of the combined total TB deaths in HIV-negative and HIV-positive people.

Specific efforts made by the Federal Government to control TB in collaboration with partners including FHI 360 and the SIDHAS project are:

  • Use of the GeneXpert MTB/RIF technology as the primary diagnostic tool for TB among all presumptive TB cases in the country including PLHIV. There are currently 390 GeneXpert sites in the country.
  • Provision of TB services in over 6, 500 health facilities (DOTS centers) both private and public facilities in the country for Drug Susceptible TB.
  • 27 specialized DR-TB treatment centers across the country.
  • TB/HIV collaborative services.
  • TB preventive services and other diagnostic services are provided free of charge in these health facilities.

Despite these efforts, the 2017 WHO Global TB report revealed that Nigeria remains among the ten countries with the largest gaps in TB case notification. Although Nigeria notified a total of 104, 904 TB cases in 2017, this only accounted for 26% of the estimated TB cases (407,000) for the country in the same year.

Strategic interventions put in place through the concerted efforts of the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP) of the Federal Ministry of Health, WHO, USAID, Global Fund and other NGOs to end tuberculosis include:

  • House to house case search in high TB burden areas e.g. slums.
  • Contact tracing of known TB index cases across the country
  • Engagement of patent medicine vendors and community pharmacists in active case finding by referring presumptive TB cases to the DOTS centers.
  • Procurement of more GeneXpert machines by the Federal Ministry of Health and partners and the optimization of existing ones to enhance diagnosis and case finding in TB.
  • Intra facility active case search, especially in facility with high burden of patient patronage.

This years commemoration of the World TB day has lasted for one week with the following events:

  • Pre-World TB day press briefing on 15th March 2018.
  • Community awareness creation on 19th March 2018
  • High level round table discussion on sustainable financing for TB on 20th March 2018
  • Orientation workshop for parliamentarians on 21st March 2018
  • Launching ceremony of Nigeria Parliamentary TB caucus on 22nd March 2018
  • World TB day Ministerial briefing on 23rd March 2018
  • World TB day rally/road walk on 24th March 2018.

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