The Federal Government has declared a State of Emergency on childhood tuberculosis.
Dr Chukwuma Anyaike, coordinator, National Tuberculosis, Buruli Ulcer and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP), announced this in Abuja at the bi-weekly meeting of the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) on COVID-19 and other infectious diseases in the country.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious disease caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that often affect the lungs. The bacteria are spread from person to person through tiny droplets released into the air via coughs and sneezes. World Health Organisation (WHO) stated that “Nigeria has recorded a 50 per cent increase in TB notification from 138,591 TB cases in 2020 to 207,785 TB cases in 2021.
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“Also, about six per cent of all forms of notified TB cases in 2021 were children less than 15 years. TB is an important infectious disease of public health concern.
“The effects of TB on children in terms of morbidity and mortality are more than that of adults and the ugly development may not be unconnected with the differences in characteristics and peculiarities of the disease in children.”
The world body added, “Tuberculosis in children is usually primary, paucibacillary, characterised by difficulties in diagnosis of both drug susceptible and resistant TB.
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“This is associated with poor uptake of preventive therapy for those with latent infection, contacts and people living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA), in most developing countries like Nigeria.”
The NTBLCP coordinator, therefore, said that the management of TB in children was characterised by difficulties due to both peculiarities of children and the disease.
He added that “with detailed clinical assessment and examination of necessary specimen, in addition to strict adherence to the guidelines of the national TB control programme, more cases of TB in children can be prevented, diagnosed, treated and reported.”
Chukwuma said these disturbing statistics called for a change in narrative of the country’s child TB scourge, stressing the need for concerted response from stakeholders.
“We now have a National Steering Committee for Childhood TB, which will now be the central advisory body of the Programme,” he said.