Nigeria's southern state raises alarm over childhood tuberculosis cases

ABUJA, April 20 (Xinhua) -- Nigeria's southern state of Anambra on Thursday raised an alarm over the spike in the number of cases of tuberculosis (TB) found in children in recent years while calling for action to roll back the burden.

Ugochukwu Chukwulobelu, program manager for tuberculosis management in Anambra, said at a health forum in Awka, the state's capital, with every local government having TB cases, the southern state ranks highest in childhood tuberculosis contribution in the country.

TB is an airborne disease caused by a bacterium that usually attacks the lungs but could also damage other parts of the body. The disease spreads through the air when a person with tuberculosis of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, or talks.

Chukwulobelu said Anambra has recorded the "highest burden of TB drug-resistance cases, and childhood TB contribution in Nigeria," noting that "this is not a good thing for the state."

To reduce the high burden of the disease, the health official said in collaboration with the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Program as well as other partners, Anambra has set up 14 laboratories with GeneXpert machines for diagnoses.

"We also have about 800 Directly Observed Treatment Centers for TB, but the major problem is a lack of awareness among residents about TB, its diagnosis, and treatment," Chukwulobelu said, explaining a persistent cough for two weeks or more, fever, unexplainable weight loss, and drenching night sweats are signs used to screen patients.

The official advised TB patients to strictly adhere to their treatments to prevent drug-resistance TB cases, which, according to him, "were even more dangerous."

Despite TB being a vaccine-preventable disease, statistics from the World Health Organization in 2022 showed that every year, about 245,000 Nigerians die of the disease, and about 590,000 new cases occur.

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