The World Health Organisation (WHO) has commended Nigeria for significantly increasing its national Tuberculosis (TB) case finding by 50% in 2021 using innovative approaches. This was revealed by the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, in her message during the commemoration of World TB Day.
According to Dr. Moeti, Nigeria was able to achieve this feat by expanding daily observed treatment protocols, using digital technologies, community active case finding, and enlisting public-private mix initiatives.
In her statement, Dr. Moeti emphasized the importance of finding and diagnosing cases of TB so that patients can be treated, and their contacts offered preventive medication. She further urged all sectors, from communities and businesses to governments, civil society, and others, to work together to combat the disease.
TB requires concerted action, and Nigeria is an example of a country that has managed to increase national TB case finding by using innovative approaches.
However, there are still challenges facing TB prevention and control in the African region. Delayed diagnosis and testing remain a notable issue, as there is still a gap between the estimated number of new infections and case notifications of TB. Approximately 40% of people living with TB did not know their diagnosis or had not reported it in 2021.
Furthermore, the link between TB and HIV is another challenge in TB prevention and control. Approximately 20% of people newly diagnosed with TB are also living with HIV infection, and only 26% of all people living with multi-drug resistance in the African region are receiving the appropriate treatment.
Despite these challenges, Dr. Moeti noted that member states have shown an increasing uptake of new tools and guidance recommended by WHO, resulting in early access to TB prevention and care and better outcomes.
In Nigeria, innovative approaches have been used to combat TB, leading to a significant increase in national TB case finding. This achievement shows the effectiveness of using creative solutions to solve public health problems.
Dr. Moeti concluded by calling on leaders, governments, partners, communities, and all stakeholders to urgently foster resilient health systems required to accelerate the TB response, so that we can reach the Sustainable Development Goals targets by 2030. She believes that ending TB is feasible, and with the decline in TB deaths and cases, the elimination of economic and social burdens associated with the disease is possible.