Nigeria Records Worst TB Burden in Africa

ONE hundred years after the launch of the Tuberculosis (TB) vaccine, Nigeria ranks worst in Africa and 6th among 20 countries with the highest burden of TB in the world

To this end, the country yesterday launched the first 16 Module GeneXpert machine for the detection of TB in a private laboratory in Lagos even as the Federal government has been urged to step up private sector contribution to improve the poor global ranking in TB burden.

Speaking during the official launch at the El -Lab Medical Laboratory Diagnostic Ltd, Festac Lagos as part of the USAID funded SHOPS Plus project, the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi said Nigeria contributes 8 per cent of the million missing TB cases in the world while Lagos contributes 11 per cent in the country’s TB burden.

Abayomi, represented by a Director at the State Ministry of Health, Dr Agbo Lagoritie said it is important to recognize the  contribution of private sector facilities such as EL-Lab.

The occasion marked this year’s World Tuberculosis Day with the theme: “The clock is Ticking”, and the slogan adapted by Nigeria is “That cough, e fit be TB, not COVID, check am ooo!”

It was organised in collaboration with the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme, NTBLCP, Lagos State TB Programme, and the USAID SHOPS Plus project

The Chief Executive Director of EL-Lab, Dr Elochukwu  Adibo said data made available by NTBLCP, has shown that private sector engagement has increased TB case detection by 68 per cent in the first quarter of 2020 compared to 2019.

Further, Adibo said private sector participation increased case detection from 104,904 cases in 2017, to 106,533 in 2018 and 120,266 in 2019 respectively.

”TB is still a major public health problem in Nigeria and a leading cause of death among infectious diseases.  The adoption of the GeneXpert MTB/RIF test as the entry point diagnostic tool for TB case detection was done in 2016 and the Federal Government in its wisdom, through the FMOH NTBLCP, engaged private health sector including Guild of Medical Directors, GMLD, of Lab Private Sector, Association of General Private Medical Practitioners, AGPMPN, community pharmacists and Association of General Private Nurses Practitioners of Nigeria, AGPNPN and others to help increase case detection and treatment.

Adibo said with the donation, EL-Lab, applied private-sector efficiency-optimised testing with the machine and brought about significant improvement in TB case detection and testing with tremendous support and partnership from the USAID SHOPS PLUS programme network and their technical and logistic excellence.

Citing what EL-Lab has done with other private labs, he said In Lagos state, private sector contribution was less than 3 per cent in 2018 to TB detection but has now risen to 21 per cent in 2021, bringing the Nigerian case detection rate to 31 per cent up from 24 per cent in 2017

The PPM case notification trend rose from 19 per cent in Q1 2020 to 29 per cent by Q3 2020 compared to 12 per cent in Q1 and 16 per cent in Q3 of 2019 (NTBLCP). This shows that the engagement of the private brought more life into the TB programme in Nigeria.”

He further identified challenges to case detection to include funding infrastructure and logistics especially alternative power supply to meet the demand for uninterrupted service delivery, unavailable support for public samples to support operational costs and human resources.

He listed other challenges to include, lack of collaborating and supporting agencies in the private sector among others.

On the 16 Module GeneXpert machine, EL-Lab Focal Person, Mr. Emmanuel Onyeje said the machine will be used by Nigerians at no cost and would definitely improve case detection.

Onyeje said the launch of the machine was part of the Federal government strategy to curb the spread of tuberculosis in Nigeria.

“It is a welcome development in Nigeria. We are happy that this is happening within the private sector because over 70 per cent of Nigerians seek their health needs within the private sector.”

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