In the week that a major announcement was made by WHO shortening the treatment of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, the scientific community is coming together with health care workers and public health practitioners to share knowledge on one of the major public health challenges of our time: Tuberculosis.
Nigeria has more tuberculosis cases than any country in Africa, and the fourth highest annual number of TB cases in the world. Nigeria’s first-ever TB prevalence conducted in November 2012 showed that about 600,000 new cases of TB occur in Nigeria annually. Tragically, the recent prevalence survey in Nigeria showed that most of these cases are never diagnosed, and never treated.
TB is one of the oldest diseases known to man and it is caused by mycobacterium tuberculosis. It is spread through the air when people who have an active TB infection cough or sneeze, transmitting respiratory fluids through the air. A small proportion of those infected, develop the disease tuberculosis, for reasons that are not yet fully understood. The disease; tuberculosis typically affects the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body. It is estimated to be the second major cause of death from infectious diseases worldwide, after HIV/AIDS. Despite being one of the oldest diseases known to man, it is one of the most difficult to diagnose and treat.
TB affects mostly deprived and isolated communities. It is not surprising therefore that TB is never high on the health agenda in Nigeria. Almost the entire response to tuberculosis in Nigeria is donor-funded, with the Global Fund alone contributing $150M in the past 10 years. The association between TB and poverty is mediated by overcrowding, poorly ventilated housing, malnutrition, smoking, and poor social capital. Amongst especially vulnerable groups, are people living with HIV, orphans and internally displaced persons (IDPs).
The challenges in identifying and managing TB among vulnerable groups in Nigeria is the central theme of the 2016 National Tuberculosis Conference, which is being held this week in Abuja and hosted by The Stop TB Partnership Nigeria (STBPN) in collaboration with the National TB & Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP). The conference will hold on Tuesday, May 17 and Wednesday, May 18, at the Nicon Luxury Hotel, Garki. It is themed, “The Hidden Face of Tuberculosis: Challenges in Identification and Management among Vulnerable Groups in Nigeria.”
Her Excellency Mrs. Aisha M. Buhari, the Wife of the President, will open the conference in her role as TB Champion. Other special guests include Ambassador Dr. Eric Goosby, United Nations Special Envoy on TB, Dr. Lucica Ditiu, Executive Secretary, STOP TB Partnership, Geneva, Dr. Marten van Cleef, Global Director, KNCV/Challenge TB, and Prof. Mark Cotton, a world-renown TB researcher at the Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa.
The conference will also discuss how partners can leverage some of the recent innovations in TB diagnostics and drugs, the state of TB case-finding and prospects for TB Control in Nigeria, and tackle the future direction of the National TB Control Programme.
The conference organisers held a pre-conference media briefing on Thursday, May 12, at the KNCV Office in Abuja, to raise awareness for the issues the conference plans to deal with, as well as implore media to champion the cause of raising awareness in the public space about TB Control and management.
— Nigeria Health Watch (@nighealthwatch) May 12, 2016
In addition to the main theme of identifying and managing TB amongst vulnerable groups, there will be side events at the 2016 Conference. These include “Nigeria Parliamentarians Call to Action on TB” and a TB Community Forum and Call to Action for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Patient Representatives. The Community Forum holds today, Monday, May 16th, at Crystal Palace Hotel in Abuja. Over 100 CSOs will gather to discuss how CSOs can more effectively advocate for better TB Control.
The conference registration is now closed as the event is sold out. Doctors and other medical personnel who are attending this conference can earn 10 CME Units. For questions or enquiries call NSTBP Secretariat at 08057369737 or 08033345378, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow the conversation online using the #TBConference2016 hashtag.
Every country is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable. Maybe it’s time for us to stand up for ours. Join us at this conference as we fight to #EndTB.