In Nigeria, Tuberculosis (TB) remains a significant health problem, with many people falling ill and dying.
Nigeria ranks 6th among the 30 countries with highest TB burden in the world and 1st in Africa. Nigeria comes third behind only India and China in terms of tuberculosis cases. Every year, around 245,000 Nigerians die from tuberculosis (TB) and about 590,000 new cases occur. TB accounts for more than 10% of all deaths in Nigeria.
The BCG Vaccine is the only available vaccine that is highly effective against tuberculosis. A safe and cost-effective vaccine that has been used for almost a century and has been credited with saving countless lives worldwide.
Patients who received the vaccine were much less likely to fall ill than those who did not. And a study conducted in Nigeria found that BCG vaccination reduced the risk of developing active TB by 64% among children under the age of 5.
Despite the success of the vaccine, Nigeria has faced challenges with its supply and distribution. The procurement and distribution of the BCG vaccine had issues, leading to stockouts in some areas, according to NPHCDA 2019 report. In 2020, BCG vaccination coverage was 68%, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Using this data, the government launched a massive vaccination campaign to prevent the spread of TB. They analysed the data to target the most vulnerable areas and raise awareness of the importance of vaccination. As a result, TB incidence dropped significantly, leading to a healthier and happier population.
However, the fight is not over, with recent research exploring the potential protective effects of the BCG vaccine against COVID-19. The push for improved data collection and analysis continues to improve health outcomes, requiring collaboration between policymakers, healthcare providers, community leaders, and advocates. By working together and addressing misconceptions, more people in Nigeria can be protected from TB using the BCG vaccine.
NSSF is taking steps and advocating for everyone to get immunized, especially infants and young children in areas where TB is common. This will reduce the risk of severe TB infections, particularly in children.