The World Health Organization said it will continue to support governments at all levels to ensure that Covid-19 management programme takes the advantage of the extensive structures and human resource capacity available in the TB control programme.
WHO National Professional Officer (NPO), Dr Moses Onoh added that Tuberculosis is curable and preventable, yet millions of people are infected annually, with many unable to access diagnosis and life-saving treatment.
He noted that there is need to increase detection, diagnosis and management of cases at the community level.
Though available data indicates that there has been an increase in annual Tuberculosis (TB) case notification due to strategic intervention by the National Tuberculosis, Buruli Ulcer and Leprosy Control Program (NTBLCP), in collaboration with World Health Organization (WHO) and other stakeholders working on TB control and elimination in Nigeria.
“In year 2020 a total of 138,591 cases were notified;15% higher compared to 106,533 and 120,266cases notified in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Also, comparing first quarters of 2019, 2020, 2021 case notification are 28,823, 33,132 and 43,838 (32% increase in Q1 2021 compared to Q1 2020) respectively.”
The National Coordinator, NTBLCP, Dr Chukwuemeka Anyike, said the country is very impressed with the 2020 program performance despite COVID-19 pandemic.
He hinted that active TB case finding is vital in reducing the burden of the disease in the country because Nigeria has over 440,000 incident TB cases, and over 300,000 are estimated to be missed annually.
“It implies that with additional resources channeled towards TB case finding, scale-up of innovative strategies and a focused and targeted approach the country can actualize its goal of finding all missing TB cases and possibly ending TB in Nigeria”.
“In other climes, when the pandemic triggered lockdowns in March 2020, diagnosis and enrollment for TB treatment fell in many high TB burden countries. In Nigeria, the key component of the intervention began in the second quarter of the 2020 with WHO and partners integrating TB case finding into the COVID-19 structure in all outreach in 12 states (e.g., Anambra, Bauchi, Benue, Cross River, Delta, Imo, Kaduna, Kano, Lagos, Niger, Osun, and Rivers States). ”
“The response included training TB case officers, community informants on advocacy, house-to-house case search, contact tracing, and social mobilization for Tuberculosis and COVID 19. Effort to locate TB and Covid-19 cases included screening programme, laboratory services engagement with key community stakeholders in the 12 states, and services in the health facilities were intensified in collaboration with USAID-KNCV, using Genexpert and the ‘WOW’ Trucks. ”
With early lesson from the recovery effort, all 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have included TB in the covid-19 response to ensure that new cases detected are placed on treatment.