Health emergencies have not left the habitation of men without their course taking turn over time. The outbreak of diseases and pandemics over time, are known to usually record their historical grips at the onset of their insurgence within the demographic locale of their outbreak. The spread of such diseases to other parts of the world is not a strange phenomenon. The ravaging COVID-19 pandemic is known to have been spotted first in China from where it was transported across the world. The mobile and social character of the human race is known to give expression to this fact.
While it is known that certain diseases have been nailed to be territorial in their character, in which case the experience of their outbreak is known to be more or less peculiar to certain regions in the world, it is also acknowledged that nations across the globe have learnt to develop response systems to address and as much as possible, mitigate avoidable losses from certain novel diseases. Hence, response systems have pragmatically been established by proactive governments of nations to guide against the resurgence of certain diseases which in the past had recorded huge dealings of losses.
Conscious efforts towards foreclosing the possibilities of an outbreak that could lead to massive losses, as recorded in the past, are known to be reasonable measures governments of nations employ to protect their population from acute ravages which a known disease may pose. Hence, guidelines and enlightenment sourced from inferences from deep researches are usually dished out and made handy to acquaint the citizenry on conducts or protocols to guide against certain diseases, particularly those having peculiar character by demographic definitions.
In Nigeria, diseases which are known to the population are very much in view. Such diseases as Hepatitis, Lassa Fever, Malaria, Typhoid fever, Poliomyelitis and Tuberculosis, among others, are diseases which ring bell in the Country. Among many others, they are known to be very much preponderant within the Nigerian climate. However, it appears that response to these diseases over the years still remain weak, such that the population is still largely susceptible to their grips. One of these, which continually records resonating impacts is Tuberculosis. The infection rate of the disease in the Country, over time, calls for strong attention.
Tuberculosis (TB) is known to be a contagious bacteria infection with its attack-spot on human lungs. It also has the possibilities of spreading to other parts of the body, such as the brain and spine. It is caused by a type of bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria spread through the air, just like a cold or the flu. It can be contracted through contact with infected persons, such as friends, co-workers, or family members or from unknown persons in a crowded environment. Unlike COVID-19, Tuberculosis may not be contracted by shaking hands with someone who is infected or by sharing their food or items. It is mostly transmitted to another person through breath when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks, laughs, or sings, and releases the tiny droplets that contain the germs.
Among other regions as Russia, Eastern Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean, Tuberculosis is known to be common in Africa and Nigeria particularly. In the 20th century, Tuberculosis was a leading cause of death in the United States. With the development of laboratory research, presently the disease is mostly cured with antibiotics, which however takes a long time, with medications that may last up to six to nine months. However, studies have shown that the two major variants of the bacteria disease – latent and active TB – infection can also be drug-resistant, which translates that certain medications don’t work against the bacteria.
While Latent TB doesn’t pose symptoms, a skin or blood test can prove positivity of the infection or otherwise. The symptoms for the active TB disease include: cough that lasts more than three weeks; coughing up blood; feeling tired at all time; chest pain; night sweats; chills; loss of appetite; weight loss; and fever, among others. It has been established that the disease bears such threatening complications as joint damage; lung damage; infection or damage of the bones, spinal cord, brain, or lymph nodes; liver or kidney problems, inflammation of the tissues around the heart, among others.
Recently, it was reported that over 1,106 cases of tuberculosis have been detected within the last six months, January and June 2021, only in Ondo State, Nigeria. The Coordinator of the National Tuberculosis, Buruli Ulcer and Leprosy Control Programme, Dr Oluwafemi Aina, was reported to have said the cases were recorded between January and June 2021 across the 18 local government areas of the State.
He was quoted: “From the report from our national headquarters, a total of 635 cases of tuberculosis was detected and notified in Ondo State in the 18 local government areas in quarter two (Q2) of 2021, that is April — June 2021. So far, from January to June 2021, 1,106 cases of tuberculosis have been detected, notified and placed on treatment across the 18 local government areas of the state. Attention on COVID-19 is expected, it is what is currently happening that everybody focuses on, but notwithstanding we have been intensifying our sensitisation as much as possible.”
The need for enlightenment to be strengthened on the subject matter of contagious diseases in the Country is paramount. For Tuberculosis and others, such enlightenment should centre largely around the working chain of the disease in question, on courses relating to the types and their symptoms, causes, risk factors, transmission, treatment, side effects, complications, and prevention, among others. This is important to aid in terms of mitigating against avoidable losses from Tuberculosis, among other contagious diseases. In this light, such efforts will enlighten citizens on how to detect early when they are exposed to such diseases and for early treatment measures, while acquainting the masses on safety protocols and hygiene to guide against contracting and spreading such diseases. This, in the long run, will substantially culminate in guiding against economic losses which by record come into bear with ignorance which leads to heavy cost of managing preventable diseases on large scale infections.
More importantly, it is pertinent for the Government to invest in developing researches to come up with inferences and policy actions essential to develop responses against Tuberculosis and other contagious diseases, putting in view their character with the peculiarities of the Nigerian demography. Working on parameters to set in strong measures of prevention is paramount, while efforts on such other measures as developing administratiive systems to build strong responses on the availability and accessibility of vaccines, and the systems of test and diagnosis, remain sacrosanct. Such virile response systems will go far in changing the narrative of the unsavoury distaste of the records of losses from contagious diseases in the Country.
While COVID-19 has overshadowed the narrative of health emergencies across the world, it is pertinent to note that other diseases and health challenges with their debilitating impacts have not bowed out. Among other nations of the world, Nigeria is known with many of these diseases. It is instructive that attention be not totally turned away from these diseases. Although, the emergencies of the COVID-19 pandemic might have posed pressure which may speak such possibilities of getting all attention, there are strains that giving all to COVID-19 will erupt while other health challenges pose their subtle impacts by compound of deficiencies.