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Stakeholders worry as TB scourge fails to abate in Nigeria

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Since 2017, when the World Health Organization (WHO) initially published a report revealing that 18 Nigerians succumb to Tuberculosis (TB) every hour, efforts have been made to address the issue. Some Nigerians believe the reported figures are underestimated, suggesting the actual number may be higher, while others suspect the figures were inflated to attract international donor funding.

The Federal Government of Nigeria has implemented measures to combat TB, but the results have been limited. A recent report by the National Tuberculosis, Buruli Ulcer, and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP) reiterates that more than 18 Nigerians still die every hour from TB. Mrs. Itohowo Uko, Deputy Director at NTBLCP, emphasized the severity of TB, an airborne infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium Tuberculosis.

According to Uko, the 2017 global report from the WHO identified Nigeria among the 14 countries with a high burden of TB. The country recorded 104,940 TB patients in 2017, constituting approximately 20% of the known cases. Despite efforts, the death toll remains alarming, with 18 Nigerians perishing hourly from TB.

Dr. Cynthia Onwuteaka of KNCV Nigeria highlighted the significance of World Tuberculosis Day in March 2023, calling TB the world’s second deadliest disease after COVID-19. The report indicates a prevalence rate of 219 cases per 100,000 persons in Nigeria, translating to an estimated 500,000 individuals affected annually.

Despite declining TB cases and deaths from 2017 to 2021, the reported figure of 18 Nigerians dying every hour has persisted. Stakeholders, including Lagos State Governor’s wife, Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, advocate for increased awareness and free TB testing and treatment.

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However, some medical professionals, like Dr. Ifeanyi Ohabuenyi, question the authenticity of the reported figures. Ohabuenyi suggests that data might be exaggerated to secure international funding, asserting that TB is declining and no longer prevalent. He emphasizes the need for accurate reporting to ensure continued financial support.

In summary, the fight against TB in Nigeria faces challenges, including skepticism about reported figures, concerns about funding dependency, and ongoing efforts to raise awareness and provide accessible testing and treatment.

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NCDC reports 1,598 suspected cholera cases in Nigeria

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has documented 1,598 suspected cases of cholera across 107 local government areas.

The cholera outbreak is marked by a case fatality rate of 3.5%, which is notably higher than the national average expectation of one percent, indicating the severity of the situation.

Dr. Jide Idris, the Director-General of NCDC, disclosed these figures on Monday in Abuja while updating the public on the cholera epidemiological situation in Nigeria. He also detailed the ongoing efforts at both national and sub-national levels to prevent and respond to the outbreak.

Cholera, caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, is a severe diarrheal illness that poses a significant health challenge, particularly in regions where sanitation and access to clean water are inadequate.

Understanding how cholera spreads is crucial for implementing effective prevention strategies to contain its transmission.

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Idris stated, “The government is deeply concerned about the rapid spread and the higher-than-expected mortality rate, indicating a more deadly outbreak.” He emphasized that the fatalities represent substantial personal losses, affecting families, spouses, parents, and healthcare workers.

He also pointed out the potential exacerbation of the situation as the rainy season intensifies.

Regarding the distribution of deaths, Lagos State recorded the highest number with 29 fatalities, followed by Rivers with eight, Abia and Delta with four each, and Katsina with three. Bayelsa reported two deaths, while Kano, Nasarawa, and Cross River each recorded one death.

Idris underscored, “This worrisome pattern underscores the urgent need for a coordinated response to prevent further escalation of the crisis.” He highlighted that sixteen states accounted for 90% of the confirmed cases, with Lagos serving as the epicenter. Lagos State has received significant attention and resources to effectively manage the outbreak given its high caseload.

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Sexually transmitted ringworm found in man who had affair with multiple men

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Health officials are warning about a new case of ringworm likely spread through sexual contact, reported in New York City—the first such case in the U.S.

Fox News reports that the infection, caused by a rare fungus called trichophyton mentagrophytes type VII (TMVII), was detected in a man in his 30s. He had engaged in sexual activity with multiple men during trips to England, Greece, and California, according to a study published in JAMA Dermatology by doctors at NYU Langone Health.

The report noted that the man developed a red, itchy rash on his penis, legs, groin, and buttocks upon returning from his trip. The rash resembled eczema rather than the typical ringworm infection, which forms in circles.

Tests confirmed the presence of the fungus, and doctors prescribed standard antifungal oral medications. However, it took four and a half months for the infection to clear. The man initially took fluconazole for four weeks without improvement, then terbinafine for six weeks, and finally itraconazole for eight weeks.

Doctors found no other infections that could have worsened his condition. Dr. Avrom Caplan, an assistant professor of dermatology at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine and author of the report, told NBC there is no need for public alarm. “There’s no evidence that this is widespread or that people need to be worried,” Caplan said. “But if people are experiencing itchy eruptions in the groin area that aren’t improving, they should see a doctor.”

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John Zampella, co-author of the study, urged physicians to help identify the fungus. “Physicians need to directly ask patients about rashes around the groin and buttocks, especially those who are sexually active, have traveled recently, and report itchy areas elsewhere on the body,” Zampella said.

Fox News also reports that the man’s case is the first in the U.S., following 13 similar cases reported in France last year, with twelve of those patients being men who had sex with men. The man noted that none of his partners reported similar skin issues.

Caplan suggested that the infection was likely transmitted through sexual contact but could not rule out the possibility that the man contracted the fungus at a sauna he visited two months before his symptoms appeared.

The study indicates an increase in male genital fungi in India, consistent with the emergence of a slightly different ringworm form called trichophyton indotineae. Climate, hygiene, bathing practices, and sexual contact likely contribute to the spread of this fungus, which causes itchy and contagious rashes similar to TMVII and often resists terbinafine treatment.

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Ekiti govt prepares for vaccination of girl child against cervical cancer

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As part of measures to prevent the scourge of cervical cancer in Ekiti State, the government is set to begin the vaccination of female children beginning from May this year.

To this end, a technical working group has been inaugurated to begin the necessary planning that would make the vaccination a success.

Inaugurating the group in Ado Ekiti, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Oyebanji Filani, read out the terms and conditions which include “Mapping all relevant HPV stakeholders (EPI and Non-EPI), Provide coordination, management, and planning for all stakeholders meeting through the introduction, monitor and track the release of funding for the HPV rollout at the state, review the budget requirements for the pre-introduction and introduction activities, and monitor the timely disbursement of these funds to the lowest level.

Others are to provide overall guidance in the smooth running of the operations rooms during the introduction of the HPV vaccine, which includes early identification and proffer solutions to mitigate challenges during the HPVV introduction process. The team may make use of electronic communications through a group email to facilitate information sharing among all members between formal meetings.

Represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Mrs. Olusola Gbenga-Igotun, the commissioner said the vaccine had been proven to be healthy and safe, urging parents to allow their children to take the vaccine.

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He said the vaccine would be given to female children between the ages of nine and fourteen, while other age groups would be captured later.

Other stakeholders who spoke on the occasion, including clerics, market women, and CSOs, commended the government for the proper planning ahead of the vaccination and urged members of the public to embrace it.

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