About 130 years have passed since Robert Koch, an American doctor, discovered the Tubercle Bacillus, the bacterium that causes tuberculosis. That timely discovery, has however, not translated to much gains, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. The WHO says the world still records 1.7 million annual deaths to this preventable and treatable disease.
But the real culprit is the multi-drug resistant strain of tuberculosis, MDR-TB. According to experts, a patient develops MDR-TB when he does not adhere to the correct dose or length of treatment; when a wrong dose or length of time is prescribed to the patient or when the prescribed drug is of low quality. For the health care workers and the patient with MDR-TB, treatment from this point is slow, costly and painful. The patient goes through extensive and expensive chemotherapy and drug sessions and treatment might take as long as two years. Research has shown that majority of tuberculosis deaths are linked to MDR-TB.
To take care of this challenge, a brand new Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis Treatment Centre was unveiled at the Mainland Hospital, Yaba, Lagos, recently. At the event, which heralded the 2012 World Tuberculosis Day, Jide Idris, Lagos State commissioner for health, told the public that Lagos State carries a large burden of the TB mortality rate. “With a population of over 20 million people, rapid urbanisation process, overcrowding and inadequate housing, the MDR-TB challenge in Lagos is real. The impression is that Lagos is big and does not need help; we do need help,” said Idris to a crowd which included Onyebuchi Chukwu, minister of health. In his remarks, Chukwu acknowledged the fatality of the disease and assured that the federal government wouldinaugurate six more centres before the end of the year. “Over the years, the number of cases reported in Nigeria has continued to rise with 93,000 cases notified in 2011 with 2000 reported deaths,” he said.
The treatment centre is spearheaded by the USAID, as the donor partner with the federal and Lagos State government as the implementing partner. The WHO donated a consignment of diagnostic equipment worth $30,000, 65 binocular microscopes, 875 containers and others. The Rotary Club also donated a ward to the hospital.