Director-General, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Yaba, Professor Innocent Ujah, on Friday, June 5, said improvement of the socio-economic status of Nigerians would enhance the elimination of Tuberculosis (TB) in the country.
Ujah told the NAN in Lagos that TB is a worldwide problem, particularly in developing countries such as Nigeria where the poverty level is still high.
He said that the disease is the highest leading cause of death among curable diseases.
Ujah noted that ignorance is a major challenge in the effort to eradicate the disease, adding that a lot of people are still unaware of TB, especially those in the rural communities.
“TB is a disease of poverty, there are no two ways about that.
“Most of the people who are afflicted by TB are poor whether in knowledge or in finance because we have what we call financial poverty and poverty of knowledge.
“And unless we are able to improve the social and economic circumstances of many Nigerians, TB will still be prevalent.
“So, the first thing to do is to reduce poverty level; once we reduce the poverty level and create sufficient awareness the prevalence will not be reduced.
“People should eat good food and ensure good nutrition to boost body immunity to fight this disease,’’ the director-general said.
Ujah said the number of deaths from the disease is unacceptable and requires strong advocacy to attract government’s attention and the political will to eliminate TB in the country.
He, however, urged government at all levels to intensify efforts in poverty eradication interventions to improve the lives of Nigerians.
Ujah cited the survey conducted in 2014 by the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme, which stated that over 600,000 new cases of tuberculosis occurred in Nigeria.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) ranks Nigeria 3rd among the 22 countries with the highest prevalence of TB burden in the world.