Mrs Itohowo Uko, the Director, Advocacy, Communication and Social Mobilisation and Head, National Tuberculosis, Leprosy Control Programme in the ministry, said this at a virtual workshop for media on Wednesday in Asaba.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the workshop was organised by the ministry in collaboration with Breakthrough Action for Social and Behavioural Change and Delta government.
Uko said that available statistics in Nigeria show that TB had killed more people than COVID-19 from 2019 to date.
She said that there was a significant decline in TB testing and treatmen during the COVID-19 lockdown.
She said that TB share similar symptoms with COVID-19, adding that only laboratory test could prove the difference.
Uko said that anybody that had sustained cough for two weeks or more should go for test to establish the case whether it was TB.
According to her, TB has had a more devastating impact than COVID-19 in Nigeria but the awareness needs to be created for people to get tested.
“The media are expected to build the synergy with the ministry to create awareness on TB and generate the needed demand for the free services in the country.
“TB is treatable, particularly if reported early enough.
“It is spread through air and presents symptoms, such as excessive heat, much sweat at night, cough, chest pain, fever, weakness and loss of appetite, among others.
“It is deadly. One case can infect 10 to 15 persons in one year but early detection is necessary to effect treatment and recovery.
“It is curable and treatment is free in all government facilities,” Uko said.
She said the essence of the training was to get the media to give the same publicity given to COVID-19 to TB to ensure that everybody became aware of its devastating impact and explore the safety window to get treated.
The Delta Programme Manager, TB Leprosy and Buruli Ulcer, Dr Alexander Akpodiete, said that one in every six persons in the country had TB infection.
Akpodiete said: “TB presents in two forms, as infection and as a disease.
“Its infection lies in the chest but being kept dormant by high immunity but manifests into TB disease when the individual’s immunity drops.
“As TB disease, it is now active as it presents all the symptoms such as coughing, fever, pains in the heart, heat and sweat at night and loss of weight, among others.
“It is the commonest killer disease in the world but we are not paying much attention to it.
“Many people are not aware because they associate it with witchcraft and other superstitious beliefs. This is why we need the media.
“TB is treatable, we need the media to drum it into the people’s ear.
“In Delta, our target is to reach 13,000 patients but we could only reach 3,000 in 2020,”
He said that Delta had 10 TB testing facilities and that efforts were on to establish more facilities. (NAN)