A tuberculosis expert, Dr. Olugbenga Daniel, has said the burden of TB in the country with attendant missing cases requires the deployment of innovative strategies to identify and place people on treatment.
Speaking during a virtual interview with Daily Trust, he said Nigeria still has over 300,000 TB cases annually that are yet to be diagnosed.
Daniel, who is also the Director Technical Programmes, Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
Tuberculosis Local Organisations Network (TB LON 3) project, said Nigeria continues to have a huge number of missing TB cases because of low awareness, and 70 per cent funding gap.
He said our diagnostic capacity is another factor.
“A state like Oyo with 33 local government areas (LGAs) and a population of 10 million, currently has just 10 Gene Xpert machines in seven LGAs. Meaning that less than 25 per cent of the LGAs has the machines.
“So our diagnostic capacity is not yet optimal. There are also some primary problems that need to be resolved like the electricity and transportation systems,” he said.
He said, “Nigeria has the highest prevalence of TB in Africa. Based on studies, Nigeria is expected to identify 432,000 TB cases annually, but historically, up until last year 2020, our case finding has been staggering around 24 to 25% – that comes to a range of about 100,000 or 105,000 cases.
“In 2019, we increased to about 116,000/120,000 cases and thereafter we had an increase last year to about 130,000 cases.”
Dr Daniel who represented Dr. Aderonke Agbaje, the USAID TB LON 3 project Chief of Party, said the five-year project is primarily focused on finding missing TB cases.
He said USAID established Local Organisation Networks (LON) to rapidly increase the level of tuberculosis (TB) cases detected and treated in Nigeria over the next five years (2020 -2025), with the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) implementing the project in Lagos, Osun, Ogun and Oyo states.
He said the project has been very successful in increasing and improving the case finding across the supported states.
Dr Daniel said that was achieved through a facility intensified TB case finding strategy, which entailed ensuring that all the high burden facilities in the states – Lagos, Ogun, Oyo and Osun – are supported for the out-patient department (OPD) fast strategy.
While saying that the project currently supports 519 health facilities, he noted that other strategies deployed included community intervention and contact investigation.
The expert said other strategies were the upgrade of laboratories, boosting human resource and domestic resource mobilization.
He said TB funding is currently majorly donor-driven noting that the Nigerian government was contributing but it’s not really that significant.