TB Hitting Our Productive Population – Nigerian Health Minister

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Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has said the country’s productive sector may have taken a hit from Tuberculosis, which he said is causing the deaths of more people within the productive age bracket of 15-34 years yearly.

The minister who disclosed this when a delegation of the Joint United Nations Mission on TB and Non- Communicable Diseases (NCDs) paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja disclosed that 157,009 Nigerians, mostly within the most productive age of 15-34 years die of TB yearly.

In 2009, Nigeria launched a report of a catastrophic cost survey on TB that was conducted between 2017 and 2018 which revealed that nearly 60% of tuberculosis patients live below the poverty line. That finding also revealed that 89% of multi drug resistant (MDR) patients faced catastrophic costs compared to 69% of drug-susceptible (DS) TB patients.

Further findings from this Nigeria’s first national survey on costs incurred by TB patients and their households revealed that at least 71% of the TB-affected households face catastrophic financial burdens as a result of the disease.

Nigeria ranks fourth among 30 countries in the World with High TB Burden and highest high burden Country in Africa. Meanwhile, the country’s TB case detection rate has only moved from 17% to 24% in the last five years, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

According to Dr. Ehanire, the Joint United Nations Mission on TB and Non- Communicable Diseases (NCDs) was invited to the country to help the country douse the magnitude of the diseases, which has been identified as a major threat to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.

As a way out, the government is looking leveraging on the country’s Primary healthcare system.

“We strongly believe that an effective Primary healthcare system is indispensable in detecting and treating TB and NCDs,” the Health Minister said, adding that TB and NCDs are tropical problems in Nigeria, that have been found to be causing high morbidity and mortality at a high cost to the country, targeting its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and leave many families without financial support.

Speaking during the visit to the Nigerian minister, Lead Strategy, Multi Sectoral Accountability Global TB Programme, World Health Organization Geneva, Switzerland, Diana Weil, commended the government for its leadership and commitments to end TB and address NCDs.

She stated that Access to diagnostics, treatment and prevention with a focus on Primary healthcare are part of the primary objective of the Lead Strategy, Multi Sectoral Accountability Global TB Programme.

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