He stated this at the commissioning of projects at the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Training Centre, Zaria, Kaduna State.
The minister said “TB is today still a serious public health problem in many parts of the world, causing the death of nearly one-and-half million people each year, most of them in developing countries. The 2017 WHO global TB Report tells us that there are an estimated 10.4 million new TB cases worldwide, of which 5.9 million (56%) are men and 3.5 million (34%) are women with 1 million (10%) being children. Nigeria is among the six countries accounting for 60 per cent of new cases globally. Nigeria also ranks fourth among the 30 highest TB burden countries in the world and first in Africa. The impact of this terrible disease is worsened unfortunately by the deleterious effect of the interaction between TB and HIV in a patient,” he noted.
He described TB as the most common life-threatening diseases and the number one killer among people living with HIV (PLHIV).
Ehanire lamented that the emergence of a drug-resistance type of TB which challenge TB control in Nigeria had compounded the problem.
However, the minister assured that the present administration through the Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with development partners was taking bold steps to check TB in Nigeria.
He enumerated some of the steps to include the intervention of modern GeneXpert MTB/RIF technology as the primary tool for detecting TB cases among presumptive sufferers in the population.
According to him, “we are ensuring integration of care for TB into the core package of the Revitalisation Agenda of Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) in the country. This is to bring effective healthcare service closer to the people and so provide ease of access and increased patronage of TB and other services”.
He added that there was scale up in-country access to quality-assured Drug Resistance TB diagnostic and treatment services.
“This led to 18 Functional Treatment Centres at RHE end of 2017 and nine Referral Laboratories located at the Nigerian Institute for Medical Research, Lagos, University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan. Other places are Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH), Kano; Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH); NTBLTC, Zaria; Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Yola; and Univeristy of Port-Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH), among others,” he noted.
The Principal, NTBLC, Zaria, Dr Labaran Shehu, advised people to visit TB centres for early detection and treatment of the disease in ease of consistent cough for two or more weeks.
While assuring that TB is curable, the principal said diagnoses and drugs were available free-of-charge in all DTS centres nationwide.