• Thursday, July 25, 2024
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Treatment of TB does not confer immunity, says expert

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Treatment of Tuberculosis (TB), a deadly disease that reportedly killed 1.6 million people in 2021 globally, does not in any way confer immunity, a sad indication that people can be reinfected after undergoing successful treatment, according to an expert.

According to the World Bank, the death rate (per 100,000) in Nigeria was reported at 53 percent with a growing incidence of drug resistant TB among the general population.

Bassey Akpan, a TB specialist and programme manager of Akwa Ibom State TB control programme who stated this during in an interview to mark this year’s World TB Day intended to raise awareness on TB said treatment against TB did not confer immunity in that someone could be reinfected just like someone could have malaria attack within a short time after being treated.

TB is curable but does not confer immunity just like malaria , you can be infected if you expose yourself to an infected person,’’ he said.

Akpan, who lamented the growing incidence of drug resistant TB in the society as well as prevalence of TB among children said immunisation of children was the best prevention against the deadly disease adding that the state government has embarked on a programme of finding more TB cases to place those diagnosed to be positive on treatment which he said was remains free.

“In 2021, we had 6400 cases and in 2022, we had about 6655 cases. We go to communities during outreaches and talk to them about TB. We talk to community leaders, market women and their leaders, church leaders and by the time they see people around them developing such systems, they refer them to us for a test. Out of the number of affected persons, 12 percent of them are children,” he said.

According to him, “Children are difficult to diagnose like adults because they don’t produce sputum like adults. Rather, we collect their stool as a sample for a test but some parents are still sceptical.

“I remember a little boy who was 13 months old, he was diagnosed with not just TB but drug resistant TB. It was difficult for us because we have not really captured that a child of that age will have drug resistant TB. We went ahead to get medication for the child though it was difficult. The child was treated and obviously got better one month after.

He said drug resistant TB could come as a result of exposure to TB medication adding that this child had drug resistant TB and we could not find the source both parents have had drug sensitive TB while the child had drug resistant TB.

“That child did not get the infection from the parents but from someone around who most probably after a failed treatment transmitted it to the parents and later came to care care of the child.’’

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“We have to be careful of our caregivers especially though coughing, the bad part is that the children who have it most do not even cough because cough is an immunity reflex. They come looking pale, lean and weak no matter what you feed them,’’ he said.

“As parents, let us immunise our children with BCG when they are born. BCG is the cheapest and most effective way of managing infection,’’ he said.

At a ceremony to mark World TB day attended by development partners including Breakthrough Action and others in Uyo, held at the state ministry of health conference room, they pledged to work with the state government in a move to end TB by 2030.

Speaking during the event which also included a road walk, Bassey Nsa, the coordinator of Breakthrough Action, in Akwa Ibom State commended the state government for the support and cooperation they have enjoyed in the state and pledged to deploy their competencies in solving the TB problem in the state.