Nigeria facing escalation of multi-drug resistant TB

Nigerian cases of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis have escalated, leading some medical experts to worry that the trend may lead to a total loss of efficacy of the current first-line drugs that treat TB.  

To complicate the problem, as these cases rise, most hospitals in the country that treat TB are functioning below optimal capacity, Vanguard reports.

“TB is very much with us and we must all put all hands on deck to contain it before it gets out of control,” Dr. Oni Idigbe, director of research, and former director-general of the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research, said, according to Vanguard. "A TB patient is said to have developed  MDR -TB when the patient becomes resistant to the two most important and potent anti – TB drugs. The bottom line of TB control is to detect active cases of TB and render them non-infectious with adequate treatment."

While normal TB requires six months of treatment, a patient with MDR-TB requires six months of hospitalization follow by ambulatory care for 12 to 18 months. MDR-TB is often a case of wrong clinical management, which can lead to partial or inconsistent treatment and the development of a resistance against the drugs.

“We are beginning to see cases of multi-drug resistant  TB,"Idigbe said, Vanguard reports. "These are cases that are now getting resistant to the normal drugs we use to treat TB. If these cases are allowed to continue to develop and transmit infections, we are going to run into the problem of losing all the drugs that we have for TB and start going for second line drugs”.

The World Health Organization recommends that countries must detect 75 percent of active cases and attain 85 percent treatment of those cases to effectively stop TB. In Nigeria, only 36 percent of cases are detected and more than 60 percent are not treated, Vanguard reports.