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World TB Day: 70 percent of TB cases in Africa now being diagnosed and treated – WHO

...says one person in Nigeria dies from TB every five minutes

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has disclosed that about 70 percent of tuberculosis (TB) cases in the African region are now being diagnosed and treated, marking the highest case-detection rate in the region.

According to Persecondnews, a bacterium known as Mycobacterium tuberculosis causes tuberculosis, a contagious bacterial infection that primarily affects the lungs.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, who made the disclosure in a statement to mark this year’s World Tuberculosis Day, said the case detection rate has been on the rise since 2018.

Between 2020 and 2022, the region saw a significant increase in case detection, going from 60 percent to 70 percent.

Moeti called on the need for investment, particularly in new vaccine development, and proposed the establishment of a TB Vaccine Acceleration Council.

“There has also been a notable reduction in the region in the number of people with TB who miss diagnosis. An estimated 700,000 people missed diagnosis in 2022, a 10% reduction compared with 2021.

“To further rally efforts to end the disease through concerted global efforts to advance detection, diagnosis, and treatment, World TB Day is being marked this year under the theme “Yes! We can end TB,” she said.

The WHO regional director urged all member states to prioritize a multi-faceted approach that addresses the root causes of the disease while bolstering our efforts in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

“In the African region, a range of factors have helped boost TB diagnosis rates. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries maintained TB notification services, ensuring that cases were detected and treated.

“In Nigeria, which has a huge TB burden, case notification nearly tripled over the past five years to 285 000 cases in 2022 from 106 000 cases in 2018. Improvement in the management of HIV infection, a significant driver of TB, has also bolstered TB detection rates in the region.

“More efforts are still needed to reduce the devastating impacts of this disease on families and communities.

“As WHO, we continue working closely with governments to address the barriers to effective response and speed up the momentum to make TB history,” Moeti added.

According to WHO, “The theme of World TB Day 2024, ‘Yes! We can end TB!’, conveys a message of hope that getting back on track to turn the tide against the TB epidemic is possible through high-level leadership, increased investments, and faster uptake of new WHO recommendations.”

The international health body blamed limited access to health services, inadequate health infrastructure, insufficient quality of care, inadequate human resources for health, and inadequate social protection as responsible for the impeding progress towards ending TB.

Meanwhile, the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP) has disclosed that Nigeria alone accounts for 23 percent of the tuberculosis (TB) death burden in Africa.

The National Coordinator of NTBLCP, Dr. Laraban Shehu, said at the 2024 Pre-World TB Day news conference in Abuja that at least one person in Nigeria dies from TB every five minutes.

The coordinator expressed concerns that Nigerians bear a significant portion of the TB burden, explaining that 71 percent of TB patients incur catastrophic costs, spending over 20 percent of their income on treatment.

He also revealed that donors only fund 30% of Nigeria’s TB budget, leaving the remaining 70% unfunded.

According to him, Ngeria requires $300 million to bridge the gap.

Persecondnews reports that Nigeria is among the 30 countries named by the WHO as high-burden countries for TB and also among the list of countries burdened with HIV-resistant TB.

According to WHO data, eight countries account for two-thirds of the world’s TB cases, ranking Nigeria sixth globally in terms of TB cases.

These countries are India (28 percent), Indonesia (9.2 percent), China (7.4 percent), the Philippines (7.0 percent), Pakistan (5.8 percent), Nigeria (4.4 percent), Bangladesh (3.6 percent), and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (2.9 percent).

The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Muhammad Pate, announced earlier this year that the country reported over 300,000 new cases of TB in 2023, a record for the country.

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