The World Health Organization (WHO) says at least 432 Nigerians die of tuberculosis daily in a country with second highest disease incidence rate in Africa.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis Image/CDC

WHO Acting Coordinator for Non-Communicable Disease Dr Linda Ozor said 47 Nigerians develop active TB per hour, which is why the country is ranked among the 14 high-burden countries for TB, TB/HIV and Multi-Drug Resistant TB (MDR-TB).

“More worrisome is that every hour, 18 Nigerians die of TB, a disease that is preventable and curable. This is not simply statistics, for behind these figures there are human beings.

“The epidemic in Nigeria is also fuelled by the large number of undetected TB cases (missing cases), which serve as a reservoir for continuous transmission of the disease. Each undetected TB case has potential of infecting between 10 and 15 people per annum,” Dr Ozor said.

She called for the increased involvement of private hospitals in the fight against TB. Presently, only 14% of private institutions are collaborating with the National TB Control programme, with only 1 in 5 (19%) of TB cases being managed at private health facilities.

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Despite increasing the TB detection rate from 17% to 24% by 2017, Dr Ozor said Nigeria’s war against TB faces many challenges, which have stalled progress.

“Among the challenges are how to find the remaining 300,000 cases which are still missing from the health sector database. Of the total 400 000 cases, only 100 000 were reported. For example in Lagos, 2 out of 3 expected cases are missing,” she said.

Due to its huge population, high population density and its metropolitan nature, Lagos has the highest disease burden for TB in Nigeria.