The federal government said about 73 per cent of Nigerians is still ignorant about how deadly tuberculosis is, they are also ignorant of the fact that it is preventable and curable.
Dr Chukwuma Anyaike , The National Coordinator of the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP), made this known in Abuja, during a media engagement with health reporters and Editors.
While noting that the country ranks sixth globally on the prevalence of the disease and number one in Africa, it stated that over 300,000 cases of tuberculosis are missing in the community.
He urged Nigerians to ensure that they get tested for tuberculosis if they experience persistent cough for two weeks or more.
He said: “Only 27 per cent of Nigerians know that the country is still endemic with TB and that it is killing. There are 440,000 new cases of tuberculosis every year. No less than 300,000 cases are missing in the community, urban slums and others.
“Nigeria is number one in Africa and sixth in the world for the burden of tuberculosis. No less than 300,000 missing cases are recorded yearly. According to research, one case of tuberculosis can infect between 10-15 people in a day. Therefore, 300,000 multiplied by 15 will give you the real picture. Tuberculosis is no respecter of status, age etc. The immune system helps. A compromised or weak immune system makes you vulnerable. That is why those who are malnourished, living with HIV, cancer among others, are more susceptible.
“We can prevent it, diagnose and treat it till the person gets cured. Treatment is free. We should not be number one in Africa and six in the world. We have these rankings because of our poor health-seeking behavior. Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gunpowder when it concerns tuberculosis. However, by the hard work of members of staff of the NTBLCP and support from partners, for the first time, we were able to detect over 207,000 cases last year.
“We have a huge burden of TB. We need funding support. We have a 70 per cent financial gap. Because of this, we have adopted an integrated health service to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC), with the aim of leaving no one behind.”