The World Health Organization (WHO) has commended Nigeria’s efforts and measures taken to track and curb tuberculosis (TB) in the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
The WHO Regional Office for Africa said in a statement reaching Xinhua on Friday that indicate that there has been an increase in annual TB case notification due to strategic intervention by Nigeria’s National Tuberculosis, Buruli Ulcer and Leprosy Control Program (NTBLCP) in collaboration with the WHO and other agencies.
“In 2020 a total of 138,591 cases were notified, 15 percent higher compared to 106,533 and 120,266 cases notified in 2018 and 2019 respectively,” the statement said.
Chukwuemeka Anyike, NTBLCP national coordinator, was quoted in the statement as saying this implies that with additional resources channeled towards TB case-finding, an upscaling of innovative strategies and a focused and targeted approach, the country can realize its goal of tracking down all missing TB cases and possibly end TB in Nigeria.
He added that active TB case-finding is vital to 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.
The report said that when the pandemic triggered lockdowns in March 2020, diagnosis and enrollment for TB treatment fell in many countries with high TB burdens.
In Nigeria, the key component of intervention began in the second quarter of 2020, with the WHO and partners integrating TB case-finding by conducting outreach in 12 states.
The response included training TB case officers and community informants on advocacy, house-to-house case searches, contact tracing, and social mobilization for TB and COVID-19