Tuberculosis (TB) is a serious infectious disease that mainly affects the lungs. The bacteria that cause(s) tuberculosis are spread from person to person through tiny droplets released into the air via coughs and sneezes, and by this definition it is clear that TB is a communicable disease and it can be prevented. While tuberculosis (TB) is a highly contagious disease, it is also very treatable and the best way to avoid complications from this disease is to take medications regularly and complete the full course as prescribed. Nigeria is among the 14 high burden countries for TB, TB/HIV and Multidrug Resistant TB. The country is ranked seventh among the 30 high TB burden countries and second in Africa. The same problem of TB in Nigeria has worsened with issues of drug resistant TB and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. It is estimated that 407,000 people in Nigeria have TB each year and this is the estimated number of HIV negative people. In addition, there are an estimated 63,000 HIV positive people that get TB each year. An estimated 115,000 HIV negative people die from TB in Nigeria each year and an estimated 39,000 HIV positive people also die. IMPACT It is estimated by the World Health Organization (WHO) that 30,000 children get TB in Nigeria each year and 47,000 children are eligible to receive preventative treatment that would help to prevent them from getting TB. However, only about 8,500 children actually receive this preventative treatment. Nigeria has however started to use the new TB treatment for children. This is the treatment that is both dispersible and flavoured and so it makes it much easier for children to take. Data from the National TB prevalence survey (2012) shows a significantly higher burden of TB among men than women. In adult males, the prevalence of the bacteriologically confirmed TB is estimated
at 751/100,000 and in adult females at 359/100 000. HOW PERSONS AFFECTED BY TB (PATB) CAN ACCESS TREATMENT IN NIGERIA It is worthy of note that in Nigeria, treatment of TB is provided free of charge at public facilities and it is based on the directly observed treatment, short course (DOTS) strategy. But unfortunately, many Nigerians living with TB are not aware of the free treatment. LAWYERS ALERT CURRENT WORK ON TB Lawyers Alert is a civil society organization that promotes the rights and welfare of women, children and other marginalized groups. In view of this, the health and wellbeing of women and children are our concern. Currently, Lawyers Alert is carrying out a project in conjunction with ‘STOP TB Partnership’ to create more awareness on the disease, end discrimination against PATB and also assist PATB in accessing free legal services in situations when their rights have been violated. In the process of creating the necessary awareness, Lawyers Alert leverages on its online tool called LADOCT designed for collating data on TB and PATB discriminations.