By Brenda Agba
Benue has been ranked as the state with the highest tuberculosis prevalence in the north-central region and sixth in Nigeria.
The state Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Dr Joseph Ngbea, disclosed this recently during the state press briefing held in the New Banquet Hall of the Benue People’s House as part of activities marking the 2021 World Tuberculosis Day tagged “The Clock Is Ticking.”
According to the commissioner, Benue has recorded up to 67,793 cases of tuberculosis infections from the inception of the Benue State Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Project, eight years ago out of which 56,946 have been successfully treated with 3,958 deaths.
Represented by the Ministry’s Director of Public Health, Dr Terna Kur, the commissioner explained that tuberculosis is among the 10 leading killer diseases in Nigeria, noting that about 418,000 Nigerians are affected annually among which 41,800 are children.
Dr Ngbea lamented the rising cases of undiagnosed tuberculosis in the state and called on people to take advantage of the free testing and treatment provided by the state government through the Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Project as early detection is key.
Also Speaking, wife of the Benue State Governor, and Founder, Eunice Spring of Life Foundation (ESLF), Dr Eunice Ortom, urged members of the public, especially women, to make it a point of duty to get tested any time they notice unusual symptoms as according to her, they are most vulnerable when it comes to disease infection based on their role as care givers.
While assuring of her commitment in the fight against tuberculosis, she called on all stakeholders not to rest on their oars towards ensuring a tuberculosis free society.
Earlier, the Programme Manager, Benue State Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Project, Dr Shember Igbabur, disclosed that apart from the new undiagnosed cases, there is rapid increase of drug resistant tuberculosis cases.
He further assured of the state government’s readiness to partner with the various stakeholders towards winning the war against tuberculosis.
A major highlight of the 2021 World Tuberculosis Day commemoration was a community outreach held inside the Makurdi Modern Market where people were tested for tuberculosis for free and those found to be positive were referred for free treatment.