Dr Betta Edu, Cross River Commissioner for Health on Thursday in Calabar said the prevalence of Tuberculosis (TB) globally and in Nigeria in particular remained worrisome.
Edu said this during an interview with Newsmen as the world commemorates 2022 World Tuberculosis Day.
Edu, who doubles as the Chairperson of Commissioners for Health, in Nigeria said that in Nigeria, about 245,000 people die of TB every year with about 600,000 new cases occurring annually.
She said though, over the years, concerted efforts have been made by governments and other stakeholders to address the TB challenge, it had remained a very critical issue in the health sector.
“TB is one of the highest causes of death in sub Saharan Africa and Nigeria has some of the highest numbers of positive cases in Africa.
“Nigeria is ranked sixth in the world by a World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics released in 2020.
“In Cross River, a lot of work has been done around sensitisation in communities; we have mobile trucks that go around communities to search for TB cases in the state”, she said.
According to her, the mobile team tests the people to see if they are TB positive adding that if they test positive treatment will commence immediately.
“Therefore, for us in Cross River, we don’t wait for the patients to show up in our clinics before testing them, we go all the way out to look for patients in communities.
“Over 60 per cent of those who have tested positive to TB in the state have been placed on treatment, especially at the community level.
“I believe very strongly that if Nigeria follows our model and with all of our partners supporting us, we will be able to significantly reduce the prevalence of TB nationwide”, she said.
She said there were more than 450 health centers in the state, including the Infectious Disease Hospital in Calabar, where people can access free care for TB.
The commissioner advised any resident of the state who had a cough that was beyond two weeks, difficulty in breathing or other symptoms of TB to visit a care centre for testing and treatment.
Newsmen reports that according to WHO, 1.5 million people died from TB in 2020, including 214,000 people living with the Human Immune Virus (HIV).
Also, TB is the 13th leading cause of death globally and the second leading infectious killer after COVID-19.
The World TB Day is observed on March 24 to raise awareness about the health, social and economic consequences of TB and to step up efforts to eradicate the disease.
The theme for 2022 commemoration is “Invest to end tuberculosis, save lives.”