• Sunday, July 14, 2024
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As treatment cost rises to N34m per patient: Over 33% of Nigeria’s workforce under threat of tuberculosis epidemic

As treatment cost rises to N34m per patient: Over 33% of Nigeria’s workforce under threat of tuberculosis epidemic

…Donor funds dry up

Over 33percent of Nigeria’s workforce is said to be under threat of tuberculosis epidemic but funding for treatment to curtail the growing menace seems to dry up. This is as finding indicate that the treatment in most standard countries has risen to $23,000 or N34m per patient in four months.

This is contained in the findings by the United Nations study on TB which is said to ravage Nigeria and many other nations.

In a forum in Port Harcourt on Friday, June 14, 2024 at the Golden Tulip Hotel in the GRA section of the city, officers said over 33percent of workforce stand to lose their jobs after one year after TB-treatment completion.

Read also: Tuberculosis: Out of 6,031 diagnosed cases in Delta, 3,476 are children

Nigeria is said to be a high prevalence zone and in 2022, the estimated TB incidence in Nigeria was 479,610 with 285,561 incidents reported to the National Tuberculosis, Leprosy, and Buruli Cancer Control Programme (NTBLCP).

The report shared by Ifeoma Nwosu, USAID’s partnership specialist and Ahunanya Maxwell, another official, said the infection disaggregation showed that 54percent of the sufferers are men, 39percent are woman (39percent), while 7percent are children. In 2022, over 98,000 deaths were recorded every day from TB.

The biggest risk factors were named as school dropout, unemployed persons and victims of the raging economic recession.

Thus, tuberculosis is indicated as the second leading infectious killer globally after COVID-19 which is now above HIV/AIDS. “Nigeria ranks first in Africa and sixth globally accounting for over 70percent of the global gap in TB case detection and notification”, the officers noted.

According to USAID briefs, tuberculosis can affect anyone regardless of age or sex but the society can stop it by strengthening civic advocacy and local engagement (SCALE).

Situation report indicates that TB is now at epidemic levels, and ending it by 2023 is among the health targets of the UN Sustainable Development Goas (SDGs).

What is tuberculosis:

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease that can cause infection in one’s lungs or other tissues. It commonly affects one’s lungs, but it can also affect other organs like the spine, brain, or kidneys.

According to Maxwell, about 70percent of funding is no longer available, thus the need to raise alarm. In the face of receding funds, new needs have emerged including 62 TB lamp machines, 90 microscopes, 6 PCR machines for BU diagnosis. There is need for awareness support and need to build two DRTB centres and upgrade four treatment centres. It is indicated that nutritional support for about 13,000 for three months is needed.

Throwing some light, Bassey Offor, the Director of Public Health in Cross River State warned that nobody should claim to be safe. “If you are not infected, you are affected.”

He made it clear that TB is donor-dependent but that donors were getting fatigued. Now, he stated, there need for a wake-up call to governments, private sector, and the media.

He insisted that Nigerians must help themselves because the situation is now at epidemic levels while the disease is airborne. He said its immunity status that is keeping most Nigerians from coming down with TB, but observed that malnutrition or undernutrition is key factor.

Read also: Delta demands collective efforts against tuberculosis

Treatment and cost very expensive:

Drugs are free in Nigeria but most citizens may not know what it takes to fight back the disease in one patient. According to Offor, the situation is so dire that if some medical doctors were to be attacked by TB, their income levels may not be enough to treat it.

Investigations show that in the US, it takes $23,000 (N34m) to treat one person in four months. “Actual treatment costs will vary depending on examination and medication charges, as well as expenses associated with directly observed therapy.”

The study said in 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published recommendations for a 4-month tuberculosis (TB) treatment option using rifapentine and moxifloxacin for persons >12 years of age with drug-susceptible pulmonary TB.

“TB treatment consists of an intensive phase for bactericidal and sterilising activity, followed by a continuation phase to ensure sterilisation. Compared with a standard 6-month regimen, the 4-month regimen replaces rifampin and ethambutol in the 8-week daily intensive phase with high-dose rifapentine and moxifloxacin. The 4-month regimen continuation phase of 9 weeks of daily rifapentine, isoniazid, and moxifloxacin compares with a continuation phase of 18 weeks of daily rifampin and isoniazid for the 6-month regimen. For both regimens, recommendations are to administer treatment under directly observed therapy (DOT) for 5 of 7 weekly doses throughout treatment.”

Conclusion:

In Nigeria, only few persons can afford TB treatment. This is why the USAID and other NGOs in the fight suggest that prevention should be a new focus to reduce infection rate.