Do not neglect TB sufferers due to COVID-19, expert urges government

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By Abujah Racheal
Abuja, Nov. 3, 2020 Mr Steve Adepoju, a Public Health Expert, has appealed to the Federal Government and other stakeholders
not to neglect Tuberculosis (TB) sufferers as more attention and funding had been given to COVID-19 patients in the country.

He made the appeal in an interview with journalists on Tuesday in Abuja, adding that too much attention was being given to
COVID-19, forgetting about TB and other Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).

He expressed worry that temporary disruptions of TB treatment could cause long-term increase in TB incidence and mortality.

He added that “patients who do not consistently take the full dose of medication can spread drug-resistant tuberculosis, which is resistant to common medication.

“Routine services for TB are being disrupted by stringent lockdown at the heat of the Coronavirus pandemic.

“Nigeria should seek to estimate the potential long-term epidemiological impact of such disruptions on TB burden in high-burden states, and how this negative impact could be mitigated.”

According to the expert, COVID-19 pandemic threatens to reverse recent progress in reducing the global burden of TB disease in the country.

He explained that “TB starts with a mild fever and malaise, followed by a painful cough and shortness of breath.

“The infection spread to people in close reach. Containing an outbreak requires contact tracing, as well as isolation and treatment of the sick for weeks or months.

“This disease has touched every part of the globe. It claims 1.5 million lives each year.

“As COVID-19 spreads around the world, consuming global health resources, perennially neglected adversaries are making a comeback.”

The public health expert noted that the ideal estimate of the seriousness of infection were in its fatality risk.

He added that “before we claim that HIV/AIDS and TB are worse than COVID-19, we must prove that their case fatality ratios are higher.”

He stressed that COVID-19 and TB posed a deadly and dual threat.

He suggested that tremendous catch-up work, advocacy, and funding be done to get back on track, even as the COVID-19 pandemic was pushing millions of people into extreme poverty.

“This is not good for TB because poverty and TB are inter-related.”

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