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Tuberculosis: No Nigerian Should Die Of Disease

As the annual World  Tuberculosis Day is scheduled for March 24th and the disease continues to devastate its sufferers, even though being check-mated  by life saving regimen of not less than nine months, medical experts in the field of public health have in unison declared that on no account should a life be lost to the scourge as the drugs are completely free and available. KUNI TYESSI writes.

Public health experts have emphasised the need for visits and check-ups when coughs have persisted for two weeks and beyond as such cases could be visible signs and symptoms of tuberculosis which many seem to treat with a wave of hand, as cough is socially accepted, thereby missing several early cases which becomes an undoing.

Several foreign investments have been made in the fight against TB with more expected to come, yet Nigeria is rated very low in the detection of the disease as over 600,000 cases are expected to be reported as against the100,000 cases recorded annually. More disturbing is the rising cases of infected children who have been estimated to be 60,000 each year with only 6% of the number been reported, despite its over 6,000 public and privately-owned dot clinics spread across the 774 local government areas in the country.

Statistics made available by the Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria states that over 4.5 million Nigerians have died of TB since 1990 and have declared that this is unacceptable while blaming low awareness of the signs and symptoms of the disease among health centres and the increased cases of suspicion among healthcare workers.

In a tuberculosis workshop in Abuja, a presentation given by Dr Kuye Joseph of the Federal Ministry of Health revealed that 5-15% of an esteemed 2-3 million people that have been infected with the bacterium responsible for TB will develop the disease during their lifetime and this precedence has ranked Nigeria 4th among 22 high TB burden countries in the world.

It further revealed that a total of 91, 534 persons were notified of their TB positive status in 2014 out of which 85,891 were adults and 5,643 were children. Still in thesame development, 16,066 HIV patients were diagnosed to be carriers of the bacterium and this has become a major threat for their existence.

The disease has become the third infectious ailment in Nigeria after malaria and HIV as the report also reveals that 322 new persons are infected annually among every 100,000 and in HIV patients, 44 persons out of every 100,000.

”TB is harder to detect in HIV-infected patients and diagnostic test results take time, so many healthcare providers prescribe multi-drug TB treatments as a precaution. However, for the first time, findings from a large, randomized clinical trial show that this aggressive approach does not save more lives” says Penn Medicine and other institutions report in The Lancet, an international journal.

“We don’t necessarily need to subject the patients to multi-drug regimens,” says Gregory Bisson, an assistant professor in the division of Infectious Diseases and a senior scholar at the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine. “This new study shows that simple TB screening is a sufficient course of HIV care despite their very advanced HIV disease stage. Our participants were able to tolerate isoniazid very well, and we saw no evidence that they developed drug resistance more commonly, as is often feared.”

Another expert, Dr. Gidado Mustapha, Nigeria country director of Royal Dutch Tuberculosis Foundation also reveals that the silent killer has great tendencies of becoming drug resistant when detected in later stages and in patients’ refusal to adhere to strict drugs intake.

“Multiple Drug Resistant (MDR)TB is a condition that happens if the normal TB is not handled effectively and if patients don’t take treatment on time and it is so unfortunate that the treatment is longer than that of the normal TB and the patient will just have to take treatment for over 20 months  and 8 months daily injections. Our role is to prevent MDR TB from occuring by ensuring that patients are taking their drugs and they complete the dosage.”

On the lengthy duration for the dosage which many consider as depressing and not psychologically encouraging to TB patients who are already discriminated against with the hope that there will be a reprive in sight, Dr Mustapha says, “Unfortunately for those who already have the drug resistant TB, we will rely on a very good education and support system for now and will encourage that they take the treatment.”

“Going to issues of research, there is a lot going on in the world. Everyone understands the issue of the long burden of treatment for 20 months. Nigeria is going to start piloting a 9-month regimen because there is a 9-month regimen already been tried in Cameron, Benin Republic and Bangladesh. If it works very well, we will replace the 20 month  dosage with that of 9 months. But we have to pilot it because it requires multiple stakeholders to have an agreement, especially NAFDAC.”

“This is because if it is a new drug, it must be tried in a controlled setting so that the side effects can be detected and must be supervised to see if the system can manage it or not, or what can be put in place in the case of birthing a new drug.”

“Certainly, a new regimen is coming in place to reduce it from 20 months to 9 months.  Taking drugs for 20 months looks and feels so difficult but have you realised how many diabetics there are in Nigeria? How many hypertensive cases are there in Nigeria? How many persons living with HIV/AIDS are there in Nigeria and how many asthmatics?”

“There are many diseases that have infected people and has led to a compulsory intake of drugs everyday for the remaining part of their lives. Right now I am not even talking about TB. There is a common slogan stating that after the age of 40 is the age of pills and as humans, we are to determine the kind of pills we want to take for the remaining part of our lives.”

He also says “ Nigeria is not getting the best in the utilisation of its facilities and therefore it is not diagnosing and detecting a good number of TB patients and so when there was an analysis, it was realised that there is a very low community awareness on TB as well as service delivery points and we made up our minds that we must humble ourselves to know that health systems alone cannot solve TB problems.”

“Every MDR patient in Nigeria receives a significant support through the TB control programme which is supported by Royal Dutch Tuberculosis Foundation and funded by USAID and Global Fund. They have transport fare on daily basis to enable them go for treatment and at the end of every month, there is a package to support them because we know they are living with their families and might be facing a lot of economic challenges. This is done so that they can support their families, carry on with life while still on treatment.”

He advises that TB patients must adhere to strict intake of their drugs, observe cough ethics, no spitting of sputum all over the place because they have the responsibility of protecting family and community members from getting infected, and every beneficiary of the free treatment must ensure that he/she tells others about the treatment he/she benefitted from.

It is hoped that as more funds are channelled towards the cause of TB with a view to its total elimination, as well as more enlightenment and awareness carried out, especially on special days of its commemoration globally, the disease will be made extinct. However, individuals, corporate bodies and governments must play distinctive roles.

The post Tuberculosis: No Nigerian Should Die Of Disease appeared first on Nigerian News from Leadership News.

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This post was syndicated from Nigerian News from Leadership News. Click here to read the full text on the original website.

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