Illiteracy, poverty are the challenges facing the control of TB in Nigeria

A Consultant Microbiologist, Dr Mutiu Bamidele, on Friday identified low level of health literacy and poverty as two major challenges facing the control of tuberculosis (TB) in Nigeria.

Bamidele, who lectures at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.

He spoke in commemoration of the World Tuberculosis Day marked annually on March 24.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), this annual event commemorates the date in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch announced his discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacillus that causes tuberculosis (TB).

“World TB Day is an opportunity to raise awareness about the burden of tuberculosis (TB) worldwide and the status of TB prevention and control efforts.

“The theme of World TB Day 2017 is “Unite to End TB,” WHO said.

Bamidele said, “The biggest challenges we have in controlling TB are our level of health literacy and poverty.

“People should be aware that if they are coughing, maybe with blood, losing weight, sweating at night or having swellings in some parts of the body, they can quickly visit the hospital.

“They should have insights into what is done in the hospitals; when they do that, they will be able to know when to see a doctor, get screened and treated of their ailments.

“We need to focus on the poverty level in the country; TB is a disease of poverty, overcrowding, poor housing and malnutrition.

“Therefore, the economic progress in the country will have direct impact on TB control.“

The consultant microbiologist said that the Federal Government had embarked on a lot of measures to control TB including the establishment of centres for screening and treatment.

He also identified inadequate healthcare system as another challenge, saying, “We have challenges of staffing, funds and coordination.

“TB control should be at the primary healthcare level. Unfortunately, the Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) are not optimal at this point in time.

“If we can get it right at the PHC level, we can actually eradicate TB in the country, “ Bamidele said.

He said that the general improvement of the nation’s healthcare system, infection control within the hospitals and building capacity would help in the control of the disease.

“We also need to also talk about HIV; if we want to control TB; we must be able to bring HIV under control,“ Bamidele said.