The National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP) has identified the global COVID-19 pandemic as being responsible for the higher cases of tuberculosis (TB) in Nigeria, due to disruptions to health services, and delays in diagnosis and treatment.
To this end, the NTBLCP said the tuberculosis incidence rose significantly in Nigeria in 2020 with death toll rising, killing about 157,680 Nigerians.
This was disclosed by the NTBLCP and Advocacy, Communication and Social Mobilisation (ACSM) focal person, Mrs. Jumoke Adebari, during a one-day virtual media training for journalists in Ondo and Ekiti states.
Adebari who identified tuberculosis as one of the top ten causes of death worldwide, disclosed that the disease is caused by mycobacterium tuberculosis that affects mainly the lungs but may affect any other parts of the body.
According to her, the 2020 World Health Organisation Global Tuberculosis Report, indicated that Nigeria ranked among the 14 countries with high burden of tuberculosis, which is an airborne disease caused by germs, saying 18 Nigerians die of tuberculosis every hour.
Adebari noted that COVID-19 had diverted people’s attention from TB due to the similarities in the symptoms of both diseases, but said people still needed to take caution by visiting health facilities anytime they have the symptoms.
She however disclosed that the treatment of tuberculosis is free and available in all public health facilities across the 774 local government areas in the country.
Also speaking, the Ondo State coordinator of Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (OD-STBLCP), Dr. Oluwafemi Aina, disclosed the readiness of the agency to work with other relevant duty bearers to tackle the disease.
Aina who urged people across the 18 local councils of the state to visit the TB centres in their areas whenever they sense the symptoms, advising them to desist from stigmatisation of victims of tuberculosis.
He said the agency would embark on regular interactions with community heads and religious leaders on the dangers of the disease.
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