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Tuberculosis and HIV co-infection on the increase in Nigeria – NGO



An NGO, Heartland Alliance International (HAI), says  the Federal Government should be aware that Tuberculosis and HIV co-infection in the country is on the increase.

Mr Batholomew Ochonye, the Country Director of HAI, told the Nigeria News Agency in Abuja on Wednesday that government should give attention to these co-infections as only 19.7 per cent of those living with both diseases are under treatment.

Co-infection is when a person has two or more infections at the same time. 

Ochonye said that co-infected people are at higher risk of new HIV infection because of the lack of meaningful support from government.

“These co-infected persons include sex workers, men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs and incarcerated persons in prisons and other confinement in Nigeria,’’ Ochonye said.

The country director said that these people lacked adequate healthcare and were unable to access equitable treatment which made the gains of the national response ineffective.

According to him, “we need to create enabling environment for the people at higher risk to access stigma-free healthcare and related services.”

Ochonye also called for availability of youth-friendly services in all local government areas and appropriate sexual and reproductive health interventions in safer spaces across the country.

He suggested increased partnership with development organisations and the international community to facilitate the  deployment of global best practice to achieve epidemic control.

The expert advised that recent drugs that helped to bring the viral load down in a short time should be used in the country’s hospitals for treatment.
Editing by Oluyinka Fadare/Tajudeen Atitebi


S. Africa begins clinical trials of century-old tuberculosis vaccine in coronavirus battle



South African researchers in Cape Town kicked off a clinical study on Monday to test the protective effects of a century-old tuberculosis vaccine on the coronavirus.

A clinical study involves research using human volunteers (also called participants) that is intended to add to medical knowledge.

There are two main types of clinical studies: clinical trials and observational studies.

Although used as a vaccine against tuberculosis in children, Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) also protects against other respiratory tract infections in children and adults, the Task organisation said in a statement.

One of its lead researchers, Dr Caryn Upton, told dpa that they hoped to collect comparable data with other BCG trials – such as those in the Netherlands and Australia – so that recommendations can be made for, or against, its use in the coronavirus pandemic.

“Importantly we are looking at something different from those two trials,” she said, explaining that unlike Australia and the Netherlands, South Africa has a universal BCG vaccination policy.

This means that most South Africans would have been vaccinated at birth, so this trial will be looking at re-vaccination.

BCG will be administered to a group of about 500 health-care workers to determine “whether (re)vaccination reduces the probability of infection … and/or the severity of symptoms of COVID-19 disease” in front-line workers who come into direct contact with infected patients.

According to Task, a social enterprise which researches and develops novel medicines, it will regularly run statistical tests to see if an advantage of BCG re-vaccination can be shown.

“If there is a robust enough positive signal the results will be made public,” they said.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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Kebbi records 62 per cent cure rate of Tuberculosis – Commissioner



Kebbi State Ministry of Health, says it has achieved 62 per cent cure rate of Tuberculosis (TB) cases between 2019 and 2020 in the state.

The  Commissioner of Health, Alhaji Ja’afar Muhammad, made the disclosure in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency on Wednesday in Birnin Kebbi.

Muhammad said that TB remained a serious public health challenge world wide with high burden in Asia and African Continent.

According to him, the National TB Prevalence Survey (2016) ranks Nigeria 4th among the 30 high burden countries globally and number one in Africa, with a projected incidence rate of 322 per 100, 000 population.

Muhammad said: “Nigeria is also among the 30 burden Drug Resistance Tuberculosis (DR-TB) countries in the world, with a drug resistance of 4.3 per cent among new cases and 25 per cent among treatment cases, according to World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2016.

“The state TB control program recorded a lot of success as it achieved 62 per cent cure rate of TB cases.

“The success rate is 94 per cent, death rate three per cent and lost to follow-up of two per cent while 100 per cent directly observed treatment (DOT)”.

He said TB care services was 100 per cent sponsored by the state government with support of the National TB control program and development partners.

The commissioner noted that the gesture was a clear demonstration of the state government’s commitment towards effective health care service delivery to the people.

Muhammad lamented difficulty in tracing the affected community for case detection, referral of suspected cases for TB diagnosis and treatment are among the challenges facing effective campaign against the disease.

The commissioner called on people to report suspicious TB cases to the nearest health facility for early detection and treatment.

Edited By: Rabiu Sani Ali

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Tuberculosis—good progress, but not enough




Tuberculosis (TB) is the 10th leading cause of death worldwide, the worldwide top infectious killer and the leading cause of death among people living with HIV.

The good news is that TB is both preventable and curable, and countries have committed to end TB by 2030. The set of milestones committed to in the 2016 United Nations Political Declaration on Ending AIDS included a 75% reduction from 2010 in TB deaths among people living with HIV by 2020.

The bad news is that, in 2018, 10 million people fell ill with TB worldwide and 1.5 million people lost their lives to the disease, including 251 000 people living with HIV. While there has been a 60% reduction in deaths from TB among people living with HIV since 2000, the world is not on track to reach the 75% reduction by 2020.

As the world is commemorating World TB Day on 24 March in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical to remember that we need to sustain services for addressing TB epidemics and TB/HIV coinfections globally. There is still a US$ 3.3 billion yearly funding shortfall for TB prevention and care.

It is also timely to remember that programmes already in place to combat TB and other major infectious diseases can be leveraged to make the response to COVID-19 more rapid and effective. However, the need for an urgent response to TB, HIV or COVID-19 should not mean that human rights, autonomy and confidentiality are not respected.

The role of communities remains essential, as does the resilience of health system, for ensuring innovative people-centred and community-based and community-led approaches for service delivery, including differentiated service delivery models, digital health and innovative tools to diagnose TB infection and empower people living with HIV-associated TB to manage their treatment and care. Investments in systems for health, including communities, already made will make a real difference in the battle against COVID-19

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New WHO recommendations to prevent tuberculosis aim to save millions of lives




New World Health Organization (WHO) guidance will help countries accelerate efforts to stop people with tuberculosis (TB) infection becoming sick with TB by giving them preventive treatment.

A quarter of the world‘s population is estimated to be infected with TB bacteria. These people are neither sick nor contagious. However, they are at greater risk of developing TB disease, especially those with weakened immunity. Offering them TB preventive treatment will not only protect them from becoming sick but also cut down on the risk of transmission in the community.  

As we mark World TB Day 2020, the disease remains the world’s top infectious killer. In 2018, 10 million people fell ill with TB worldwide and 1.5 million people lost their lives to this disease.

COVID-19 is highlighting just how vulnerable people with lung diseases and weakened immune systems can be,“ said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “The world committed to end TB by 2030; improving prevention is key to making this happen. Millions of people need to be able to take TB preventive treatment to stop the onset of disease, avert suffering and save lives”.

Dr Tedros highlighted the importance to continue efforts to tackle longstanding health problems, including TB during global outbreaks such as COVID-19. At the same time, programmes already in place to combat TB and other major infectious diseases can be leveraged to make the response to COVID-19 more effective and rapid.

Although some progress has been made towards targets set at the UN high-level Meeting on TB in 2018, TB preventive treatment has been largely neglected. Global leaders committed to ensuring access to TB preventive treatment to at least 24 million contacts of people with active TB and 6 million people living with HIV by 2022.  To date only a fraction of that target has been reached, with countries putting less than 430,000 contacts and 1.8 million people on TB preventive treatment in 2018.

TB remains the top cause of death among people with HIV. TB preventive treatment works synergistically with antiretroviral therapy to prevent TB and save lives. Reinvigorated efforts by governments, health services, partners, donors and civil society will be needed to increase access to TB preventive treatment to the levels targeted.

The new consolidated guidelinesrecommend a range of innovative approaches to scale up access to TB preventive treatment:

  • WHO recommends a scale-up of TB preventive treatment among populations at highest risk including household contacts of TB patients, people living with HIV and other people at risk with lowered” immunity or living in crowded settings.
  • WHO recommends an integration of TB preventive treatment services into ongoing case finding efforts for active TB.All household contacts of TB patientsand people living with HIV are recommended to be screened for active TB. If active TB is ruled out, they should be initiated on TB preventive treatment.
  • WHO recommends thateither a tuberculin skin test  or interferon-gamma release assay (IGRA) be used to test for TB infection. Both tests are helpful to find people more likely to benefit from TB preventive treatment but should not become a barrier to scale-up access. Testing for TB infection is not required before starting TB preventive treatment in people living with HIV, and children under 5 years who are contacts of people with active TB.
  • WHO recommends new shorter options for preventive treatment in addition to the widely used 6 months of daily isoniazid. The shorter options that are now recommended range from a 1 month daily regimen of rifapentine plus isoniazid to 3 months weekly rifapentine plus isoniazid, 3 months daily rifampicin plus isoniazid, or 4 months of daily rifampicin alone.

“As people around the globe come together to commemorate World TB Day, WHO is calling on governments, affected communities, civil society organizations, health-care providers, donors, partners and the industry to unite forces and step up the TB response – notably for TB preventive treatment – to ensure no one is left behind,” said Dr Tereza Kasaeva, Director of WHO’s Global TB Programme. “The new WHO guidance shows the way forward for millions to rapidly access new tools and shorter, safer options for preventive treatment. The time for action is now.”

TB preventive treatment is an affordable intervention that can prevent families from sliding into poverty and preserve the health and economy of whole communities. WHO anticipates that as new and safer drugs come onto the markets, and as prices fall, it will become a highly-cost effective way to save millions of lives.

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Nasarawa records over 12, 000 cases of Tuberculosis in 4yrs – Commissioner



Nasarawa State Commissioner for Health, Mr  Ahmed Yahaya,  says that the state has recorded 12,733 tuberculosis (TB) cases between 2015 and 2019.

The commissioner stated while addressing newsmen on Tuesday in Lafia to commemorate 2020 ‘World- Tuberculosis-day.’

He explained that 21 per cent of the infected perons within these period were discovered to have  TB and HIV.

He noted that though the treatment for TB through direct observation started in 2003 at the only centre then, Evangelical Reformed Church of Christ (ERCC) Hospital, Alushi,  but there were 13 centres across the state at the moment handling TB cases.

The commissioner also said that based on the data available to the ministry, 259 children of age group from 0-4 were diagnosed  with TB in 2019,  representing 10 per cent of the total TB cases detected.

Yahaya said the age group that was  most infected with TB was from 15-55 years which were  the economically productive group in the country.

He urged the public to avail themselves for testing as ‘genexpert machine’ that is capable of detecting TB within two hours was  now being used in order to get rid of the  disease in the state.

He promised that the government would continue to ensure support toward curtailing TB which was why the government budgeted N18 million in 2020 budget to reduce its prevalence.

The commissioner therefore commended development partners who were committed toward  bettering the health condition of the people.

On her part, Salifat Sule, First-Lady of Nasarawa State declared the celebration open and urged the public to present themselves for testing.

She promised to support TB patients across all medical facilities in the state to give a sense of belonging.

Similarly, Dr Danjuma Aboki, State Programme Manager of TB and Leprosy, said TB was still a problem in the state as in every 10, 000 people 33 were TB positive.

He therefore said that  TB is curable and appealed to people with symptoms to visit any TB centre nearest to them to know  their status.

The theme for the 2020 World-TB-day is: ‘Its time to end TB in Nigeria.” .

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma and Isaac Ukpoju

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Don calls for measures to check spread of tuberculosis from cattle to humans



Prof. Usman Abdullahi, a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Agriculture, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU), Bauchi, has called for urgent steps to check the spread of tuberculosis from cattle to humans.

Abdullahi made the call on Tuesday in Bauchi during a news conference organised by Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA), Bauchi State chapter, to mark the World Tuberculosis Day.

The don said the level of risk was higher among people residing in the northern part of the country with dominant cattle population, adding, however, that all those who fed on beef were also at risk of been infected.

Abdullahi, who said more than 10 per cent of tuberculosis cases in humans were caused by animals, explained that there was greater need for specialists in the field of veterinary medicine to collaborate in fighting the scourge.

“Whatever efforts medical doctors were making to curb tuberculosis in the society, as long as animals are not treated from suffering from tuberculosis, such efforts will be futile.

“A lot of tuberculosis cases in human beings originate from humans themselves, but more than 10 per cent of human cases can be traced to animals and cattle have the most propensities to habour and spread the disease.

“A lot of European countries have eradicated tuberculosis; the major problem is Africa and Asia, where tuberculosis has continued to be a challenge,” he said.

Dr Istifanus Bugun, State Director, Veterinary Services, said tuberculosis was a very difficult disease to track and treat.

Bugun explained that collaboration among experts and sensitization of the public remained the workable pathway to address the spread and effects of the scourge.

On his part, Dr Ibrahim Bello, Chairman, Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association, Bauchi Chapter, said the association would continue to partner with the media to get the people informed about the danger of disease.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the World Health Organization (WHO) had set aside March 24 as World Tuberculosis Day.

The theme of this year’s event is titled: “It’s Time To End Tuberculosis’’.

Edited By: Martins Odeh

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World TB Day: Foundation urge Nigerians to shun stigma against tuberculosis patients



World TB Day: Foundation urge Nigerians to shun stigma against tuberculosis patients: Helpline Foundation for the Needy, Abuja, an NGO, has called on Nigerians to shun all forms of stigma against patients with tuberculosis, as the disease remains a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in developing countries.

President and Founder of the foundation Dr Jumai Ahmadu, made the call at a news conference to mark the 2020 World Tuberculosis Day, marked annually on March 24.

NAN reports that the day is marked to raise public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of TB, and to step up efforts to end the global TB epidemic.

The date marks the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the bacterium that causes TB, which opened the way towards diagnosing and curing this disease.

Ahmadu also urged relevant authorities to step up efforts to end the global TB epidemic and advocated for early diagnosis, treatment and palliative care.

She noted that TB remains the world’s deadliest infectious killer, adding that each day, over 4000 people lose their lives to TB and close to 30,000 people fall ill with this preventable and curable disease.

Ahmadu revealed that in developing countries, TB accounts for seven per cent of all deaths which was the most common cause of death from a single source of infection among adults.

According to her, statistics indicate that children constitute about 10 per cent of all new cases in high-burden areas.

Commenting on the 2020 theme: “It’s time”, Ahmadu described the theme as apt, stressing that the battle against TB require collective responsibility of both government and personal commitment.

“Each year, we commemorate World Tuberculosis (TB) Day on March 24 to raise public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of TB, and to step up efforts to end the global TB epidemic.

“In this race to combat a disease that knows no boundaries, it is necessary to have a conceptual and clear understanding of TB overall with the hope of providing better treatment through novel and collaborative research and public health efforts.

“World TB Day aims to save millions of preventable deaths each year by raising awareness about TB, and pushing governments and individuals across the globe to take action against the disease as in the case with the COVID-19.

“We at Helpline Foundation for the Needy are disturbed because according to the WHO, if the incidence of TB continues to grow at the reported cases, the number of deaths worldwide from TB will increase to more than 10.1 million by 2030.

“It has been observed that the association between poverty and TB is well-recognised, and the highest rates of TB were found in the poorest section of the community.

TB occurs more frequently among low-income people living in overcrowded areas and persons with little schooling,” she said.

She used the occasion to called for early diagnosis, treatment and palliative care, noting that an estimated 40 per cent of deaths from TB are preventable if awareness and early treatment was intensified.

Ahmadu expressed concerns over the global statistics that shows that more than 70 per cent of deaths from TB, occurs in economically less developed countries.

She, therefore, called on developing countries to design mechanisms for drawing attention to TB prevention and treatment in their respective states.

Edited By: Sadiya Hamza

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Tuberculosis: Stakeholders call for more funding, treatment to meet 2030 target



Relevant stakeholders have stressed the need to scale up funding, improve access to

prevention and treatment of tuberculosis to enable Nigeria to meet the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

target of ending the epidemic.

The stakeholders made the call during a news conference on Tuesday in Abuja to mark the 2020 World TB Day with the

theme “It’s Time to End TB in Nigeria.”

Dr Berthrand Odume, the Country Director of KNCV Foundation Nigeria, said that the efforts became necessary to accelerate an

end to the TB epidemic in Nigeria and globally.

The country director of the organisation, an international non-profit organisation dedicated to the fight against TB, said “we call on our

political leaders to invest more on TB control, the civil society to continue to call for accountability and the media to always help in creating the needed awareness.

“It is a call to action to scale up research, funding, human rights and accountability to end TB in Nigeria.”

According to him, global efforts to combat TB saved an estimated 58 million lives since 2000 and reduced the mortality rate by 42 per cent.

Odume identified low TB case findings both in adults and children due to low treatment and poor knowledge about the diseases as

the major challenge to total eradication of the disease.

Dr Adebola Lawanson, the National Coordinator, National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP), Federal Ministry of Health,

said the disease posed great threat to the Nigerian health status.

She, therefore, reiterated government’s commitment toward ending TB, adding that vulnerable persons, particularly children and People with Disabilities (PWDs) should

top the agenda in providing services that would eliminate the disease.

The coordinator disclosed that the Federal Government and partners would embark on community outreach and market sensistisation to enlighten the public on preventive measures and free treatment of tuberculosis.

“We have a toll free line — (Phone/Email) — to enable people to make calls and inquire about the treatment, which is free everywhere in the country with the aim of ending tuberculosis in the country.’’

Dr Ayodele Awe, Representative of WHO Nigeria, stressed the need to report any case of cough that exceeds two weeks for TB testing, screening and treatment.

On her part, Dr Temitayo Odusote, USAID Official, said Nigeria has only 398 machines for detecting TB, which was not sufficient to carter for the populace.

On his part, Sarki Dahiru, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on , Tuberculosis and Malaria, said each member of the 360 house would acquire

the machine for Tuberculosis diagnosis and rapid antibiotic sensitivity test.

Dahiru added that the machines would aide in supporting the existing ones to provide more access to testing  and rapid diagnosis of the disease.

Dr Ronke Agbaje from the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) described TB as the world’s deadliest infectious killer, and stressed the need for increased public awareness

on the devastating social, economic and health impacts of the disease.

KNCV is an international centre of excellence for TB control that promotes effective, efficient, innovative and sustainable tuberculosis control strategies in a national

and international context.

The foundation’s team of professionals cover a broad range of expertise such as programmatic TB control, research, clinical management, social science, education, digital health, and project management.

Edited By: Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu



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Lagos Hospital reiterates commitment on linkage coverage for HIV, tuberculosis patients



The Alimosho General Hospital in Lagos State, says it will improve on its linkage coverage toward the patients living with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and tuberculosis.

Its Medical Director, Dr Madewa Adebajo, made the remarks while receiving a 20-man delegation from the Centre for Disease Control in Atlanta, U.S and Centre for Integrated Health Programme (CIHP) in Lagos.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the delegation was led by Dr Rotimi Efunloye of CIHP and Dr Pam Bachanas, Technical Adviser, Atlanta Centre for Disease Control.

Adebajo lauded both bodies for fostering treatment of tuberculosis and HIV across the developing nations.

He said: “This particular environment has its feature of dense population and every activity directed toward it reflects progress.

“Moreso, this inherent terrainial influx requires enhanced delivery from support groups, which in spite of uprising challenges, we earnestly hope to ease off on our own in near future,” he said.

Also, Dr Odufunke Odukoya-Maijeh, Director, Clinical Services and Training in the hospital, said that the linkage coverage operation, which had increased to 84 per cent, was due to the commitment of personnel.

Odunkoya-Maijeh said that of the 797 new positive cases of people living with HIV detected, 730 were placed on Anti-Retroviral, while 97 per cent tuberculosis indexes, who accepted their status, were on treatment regime.

According to her, 3,538 patients were on treatment for HIV in April 2019, had risen to 3,794, and they are currently on treatment as at February 2020.

“Tracking becomes paramount following discovery that huge proportionate HIV tested patients usually supply wrong numbers and inaccessible addresses and this makes it difficult to follow-up treatment at curtailing its spread.

“A huge improvement recorded on our linkage system coverage is attributed to the assiduity from staff members who steered at 100 per cent in ensuring timely viral load services from samples taken.

“The strategic 28 days observance of adherence calendar at both entry and exit points, tracking of patients using the Community Health Pharmacies and laboratories as baits.

“They also use bulk SMS and phone calls to remind patients ahead of treatment, as well as home tracing to ensure consistent follow-ups had impacted positively on the linkage coverage,” she said.

Odunkoya-Maijeh noted that the major challenge being experienced to separate the HIV and TB clinical edifice for enhanced assessment and consultation should be worked on.

Commenting, Bachanas urged the hospital to liaise with the private facilities in order to get prompt and adequate information on new cases of HIV and tuberculosis.

According to the technical adviser, such would enable the hospital to expedite 100 per cent score on the data representation of uberculosis index cases in the area.

“I commend the hospital for what they are doing, but there is still room for improvement, so that more HIV and tuberculosis patients can have assess to treatment,” she said.

Also, Efunloye, the Delegation Lead Person/Point of Contact, CIHP Lagos, implored the hospital to utilise the currently trained counsellors churning down through cascade method on personnel.

He said this would help in ensuring qualitative healthcare delivery targeted to curb the spread of HIV and tuberculosis in Alimosho and Lagos at large.

Edited By: Olagoke Olatoye

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