FG Pushes For Enhanced TB Detection With GeneXpert Tech

GeneXpert Tech

The Federal Government has underscored the pivotal role of innovative technology in combating TB in the country.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the investiture of the wife of the President, Sen. Oluremi Tinubu as a global and national Stop TB Champion, the Minister of Health & Social Welfare, Prof. Ali Pate emphasised the critical role of innovative technology in the fight against TB.

TB remains a significant public health concern in Nigeria and globally. According to the 2023 World Health Organisation Global TB Report, Nigeria bears the highest burden of TB in Africa and the sixth-highest globally, with an estimated 479,000 individuals contracting the disease in 2022. This translates to an average of one person developing TB every minute in the country, with undernutrition and HIV serving as the primary drivers of the TB burden in Nigeria.

Pate highlighted the expansion of GeneXpert equipment—a rapid molecular test for TB—to 512 health facilities by the end of 2023, with further expansion plans underway.

“With Nigeria carrying such a heavy burden of TB, the integration of GeneXpert technology into TB screening programs has significantly strengthened our diagnostic capabilities,” he stated.

The minister also noted the deployment of 51 mobile digital X-ray platforms nationwide, with an additional 350 digital X-ray machines set for deployment by June 2024.

“These advancements aim to enhance TB screening, particularly among key and vulnerable populations,” he added.

Despite these advancements, challenges such as undernutrition, HIV and limited healthcare access persist, contributing to Nigeria’s high TB burden. Pate stressed the importance of collaboration with the private sector and communities to bridge gaps in TB detection and treatment.

While acknowledging achievements in TB control, Pate reported a record number of TB cases notified in 2023, surpassing 360,000 cases. However, he emphasised the need to address significant gaps in identifying and treating all TB cases, especially among vulnerable groups.

In addition to expanding diagnostic and treatment services, the country’s strategy for combating TB includes nationwide screening campaigns and intensified engagement with stakeholders. Pate stressed the importance of addressing social determinants of TB, such as poverty and inequality, to achieve sustainable progress.

As Nigeria continues its efforts to eradicate TB, Pate called for increased public awareness and urged the media to support TB sensitisation campaigns. With a vision of a TB-free Nigeria, he emphasised the importance of leveraging innovative technology, including GeneXpert, to achieve this goal.

GeneXpert, developed by Cepheid, is a molecular diagnostic platform designed to rapidly detect various infectious diseases, including TB. It utilises real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology to amplify and detect specific nucleic acid sequences from patient samples, allowing for highly sensitive and specific detection of pathogens in a matter of hours. In the context of TB, GeneXpert’s rapid diagnosis enables prompt initiation of appropriate treatment, leading to improved patient outcomes and better control of TB transmission.

Racheal Abujah
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