Nigeria has highest tuberculosis rate in Africa

The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, on Monday said Nigeria had the highest tuberculosis record in Africa, stressing that 80 per cent of the cases in the country had yet to be diagnosed.

Adewole spoke at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, while receiving laboratory equipment for the TB laboratory.

The equipment was donated by the Agbami Co-ventures, comprising of Star Deepwater Petroleum Limited, National Petroleum Investment Management Services, FAMFA Oil Limited and Petrobras.

During the event, the minister also launched the first edition of the national guideline on bio-safety for the TB laboratory, and national standard operating procedure for TB diagnosis sponsored by the companies.

According to Adewole, Nigeria was in a black spot on tuberculosis index rate, occupying the fourth position in the world behind Indonesia, China and Russia.

He said the condition was preventable treatable and curable if diagnosed quickly.

The minister said, “Many countries that have recorded improvement in the socio-economic indicators have invested in health. If you look at Malaysia, Thailand, and many of them, you will see an improvement in their health indicators and reduction in mortality and referral mortality before they record improvement in their socio-economic indicators.

“Tuberculosis remains an epidemic. The message for all of us is to work together to really put the tag on tuberculosis that this is a disease that is preventable.

“We can diagnose it easily and it is treatable and curable. Nigeria is one of the top six countries in the world with high tuberculosis rate. We are number one in Africa; in fact, we are number four in the world. So, we are there in a black position. We must work together to change the narrative about tuberculosis. Working together will enable us to make the correct diagnosis.

“About 80 per cent of our tuberculosis cases remain undiagnosed. We are only able to diagnose roughly one out of six, in other words, there are five out of six cases out there undiagnosed and they represent a threat to our own health.”

The minister explained that there was a high risk of contracting tuberculosis when people who had the disease but had yet to be diagnosed stayed in the midst of other people, stressing the need to intensify awareness campaign among Nigerians.

“We need to educate the public that tuberculosis is there, real, and working together, we can diagnose and treat it. And the treatment is free, so you don’t even have to pay,” Adewole added.

A representative of Deepwater Petroleum, who is the Manager, Policy, Government and Public Affairs, Chevron Nigeria Limited, Sam Otunoye, said the decision to donate the equipment was made to assist sufferers of tuberculosis to get treatment early.

He said, “We believe in the principle of doing the right thing, the right way, using the right tools. To effectively adhere to this principle requires a good grasp of procedures. It is for this reason that we sponsored the production of the National Standard Operating Procedures for Tuberculosis Laboratory Diagnosis and the National Guidelines on Bio-safety for Tuberculosis Laboratories.”

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