Nigeria holds emergency meeting to harmonise strategies
There are fresh concerns that tuberculosis will soon become untreatable even in Nigeria due to growing resistance of the pathogen, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, to available drugs.
Nigeria is presently ranked fifth among the 22 high-burdened TB countries by the World Health Organisation (WHO).Also, Nigeria is concerned about the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Democratic Republic of Congo as the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, at the weekend visited Kinshasa to discuss with national authorities and partners ways to stop the outbreak.
The visit follows notification by the DRC government of an outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Likati health zone, Bas Uele Province, in the northern part of the country bordering Central African Republic. The Likati health zone is around 1400 kilometres from the capital. As of today, 11 suspected cases, including three deaths, have been reported.
To address a possible spread of EVD to Nigeria, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) will today hold an emergency meeting with all focal persons and stakeholders nationwide.
Director of Communications, NCDC, Dr. Lawal Bakare, told The Guardian over the telephone yesterday that the meeting would agree on strategies and measures to adopt.
According to a study published over the weekend in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, cases of drug-resistant tuberculosis are anticipated to increase in the four high burden countries (India, the Philippines, Russia, and South Africa) between 2000 and 2040, with the upturn likely to be a result of increased transmission of drug-resistant tuberculosis between people, rather than by strains acquiring resistance to anti-tuberculosis drugs.
The situation also threatens the WHO’s end TB strategy set tto eliminate tuberculosis at a global level. According to this strategy, a 95 per cent reduction in the number of deaths from tuberculosis and a 90 per cent reduction in the incidence of tuberculosis should be achieved by 2035, compared with 2015. An important component of the road map for the elimination of tuberculosis is preventing the spread of drug-resistant tuberculosis, especially in the 30 countries with the highest burden of tuberculosis.
Besides, Moeti in a statement released yesterday by the WHO, said: “I am here to assure the government of DR Congo that in collaboration with the UN system and other partners, we will work together to respond to this outbreak. WHO has already mobilised technical experts to be deployed on the ground and is ready to provide the leadership and technical expertise required to mount a co-ordinated and effective response. I encourage the public to work with the health authorities and take the necessary preventive measures to protect their health.”
The investigation is currently ongoing and information is available for only three of the suspected cases: The first case (and possibly the index case), a 39-year-old male presented onset of symptoms on April 22, 2017 and died on arrival at the health facility. He presented with haematuria, epistaxis, bloody diarrhoea, and haematemesis. Two contacts of this case are being investigated: a person who took care of him during transport to the health care facility (he has since developed similar symptoms) and a taxi driver (deceased) who transported the patient to the health care facility.
According to the WHO, the full extent of the 2017 outbreak is still not clear. According to the global health body, extensive investigation and risk assessments are being conducted and the findings will be communicated accordingly.Meanwhile, WHO does not recommend any restriction of travel and trade to DRC based on the currently available information.