Nigeria needs to take immediate action to control and monitor tuberculosis in the country to prevent an epidemic that could kill thousands of people, Peter Eriki, the World Health Organization's representative in the country, said Monday, the Daily Trust reports. Eriki expressed concern about the way TB cases are handled in the country. He added that HIV/AIDS and TB are "major public health problems in Nigeria" and that the country ranks third and fourth "in terms of the burden of the two diseases, respectively, worldwide."
Drug-resistant TB could spread in Nigeria if the treatment of the disease continues to be mismanaged, Eriki said. He added, "The rapid growth of the HIV epidemic in high-burden countries like Nigeria has resulted in an equally dramatic rise in the estimated number of new" TB cases. TB is the leading cause of death among HIV-positive people, according to Eriki.
Eriki said that Nigeria's health minister should make issues surrounding the importation of drugs a top priority to ensure the drugs can be used for treatment. Additional donor drug consignments will be sent only if they are cleared immediately at the country's ports and then distributed, according to Eriki. Nigeria's Health Minister Adenike Grange said that she will clear drugs as soon as they arrive and that WHO should do more to help Nigeria strengthen its weak health system.
Eriki and Grange were speaking during the official donation of drugs and HIV test kits for use among people living with TB. During the ceremony, Eriki also announced that WHO is providing Nigeria with 15.8 million naira, or about $134,000, to address HIV/TB coinfection.
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation