Ending Tuberculosis In Nigeria: The Clock Is Ticking


That’s the number of people the backseat of a keke can take. It’s also the number of people that die every minute from Tuberculosis.

What is Tuberculosis (TB)?

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that affects mainly the lungs. It can also affect the abdomen, spine, or heart. It is an infectious disease that spreads through the inhalation of the tiny droplets released when a person with the active disease sneezes or coughs.

Some people can have latent tuberculosis which occurs when a person is infected with the bacteria but the person’s immune system prevents it from reproducing and causing illness. While such a person cannot spread the disease, they still require treatment.

Others have an active infection. Active tuberculosis occurs when the immune system cannot restrain the bacteria from replicating and causing sickness. It may happen following exposure to someone with active tuberculosis or due to a reactivation of latent tuberculosis following the weakening of the person’s immune system.

Some common symptoms of Tuberculosis include:

  • Night sweats – you may struggle to identify this because our weather is hot and ‘NEPA’ tends to take ‘light’ at night. So, you can look out for sweating at night when every other person isn’t.
  • Coughs lasting longer than two weeks
  • Weight loss
  • Chest pain
  • Fever
  • Blood-stained sputum i.e. saliva and mucus

How is Tuberculosis diagnosed and treated?

A diagnosis of tuberculosis is usually made through either a Chest X-ray or a Sputum Test.

The Lagos State Government has a community TB screening and diagnosis exercise currently ongoing.

The treatment regimen takes from six months to 1 year.

How Can You Protect Yourself?

In a list of the 30 countries with the highest TB burden in the world, Nigeria is number 7. 245,000 people die from tuberculosis in Nigeria each year. This figure is more than double the population of Seychelles, an East-African country. For a disease that can be treated, this death toll is high.

To protect yourself and loved ones:

  • Avoid treating cough through self-medication, instead, go to the hospital whenever you have a cough, especially if it lasts longer than two weeks.
  • Ensure that your room is well-ventilated and limit the number of occupants in a room to two to avoid overcrowding.
  • Eat healthily and stay fit.
  • Observe proper respiratory hygiene whenever you cough or sneeze by covering your mouth and nose with your elbow, or using disposable tissue paper.
  • Ensure that your children get vaccinated against Tuberculosis. The vaccine is usually given at birth. A crude way of checking if you have been vaccinated against TB is by checking your upper arm (usually the left) for a round scar. Not everyone that has received the vaccine has this scar.

TB has more devastating effects when your immune system is weak. This is why People Living With HIV/AIDS are at a higher risk of coming down with serious forms of tuberculosis. Tuberculosis has ravaged mankind for years, but if you play your part, we can stop it finally.

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