By: Asoro Abubakri Olatunji/ www.africanakua.com, Nigeria
During the reign of the US President, James K Polk, part of his ambition was to expand the United States territory which included the annexation of Texas. This would later lead to war between Mexico and the US. The war ended in 1848 with the signing and ratification of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo in 1848. The war did not only handover Texas to the US, the events also brought within the control of the United States, the future states of Texas, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Washington, and Oregon, as well as portions of what would later become Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, Wyoming, and Montana.
The US office of the Historian further provided on its site that the war had another significant outcome. On August 8, 1846, Congressman David Wilmot introduced a rider to an appropriations bill that stipulated that “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall ever exist” in any territory acquired by the United States in the war against Mexico.
A similar war was fought in Nigeria – the Biafran war of 1967 to 1970- four years after political independence from Britain. In the long run, Nigeria won the civil and united under one federal government.
Today, the whole word is fighting in a big war, thus the war against the deadly coronavirus or COVID-19. Just like the two civil wars mentioned in the preceding paragraphs, there is yet an ongoing war to be defeated globally especially in Nigeria: War against COVID-19 and Tuberculosis.
Tuberculosis (TB) has been a thorn in the flesh of Nigeria before the outbreak of COVID-19 and has been a national burden to Nigeria.
Tuberculosis shares similarities with COVID-19, from symptoms to casualty and mortality. Experts have said that Tuberculosis kills an average of 483 Nigerians daily, a number which COVID-19 death has never come close and we pray never does.
While specimen taken for test of COVID-19 include Upper Respiratory Track Specimen (Nasopharyngeal and Oropharyngeal Swab), Lower Respiratory Tract Specimen( Sputum) and blood sample, TB also make use of majorly Sputum and then X-ray and blood in some cases. In fact, indications are that TB Gene Xpert machine will be deployed for COVID-19 test.
One major difference between COVID-19 and Tuberculosis is that while COVID-19 is a respecter of no man, Tuberculosis has done more havoc to the poor than the rich. Malnutrition, a non serene and healthy environment including lack of good hygiene and some other environmental factors have made Tuberculosis more appealing to the poor than the rich.
COVID-19 must have regretted making its target the big wigs in the society with the type of heavy blow it is receiving, Nigeria approach which has been commended by both the WHO and UN is even more surprising that a nation which had battled Tuberculosis effortlessly could rise up to that magnitude to defeat COVID-19 which is an indication of lack of will than lack of resources to fight TB.
Well, COVID 19 will take the pride that no single vaccine has been worldly recognised as its cure unlike Tuberculosis, many record of survival within few days and weeks have however been recorded.
In the case of Tuberculosis, patients are subjected to the mystery of swallowing drugs for 180 days in the case of Drug Sensitive TB (DS TB) which is the shortest drug regime, although patients may become okay after few weeks too and are no longer infectious after two weeks. Like COVID-19, some TB patients are also isolated, in most cases, these are Multi Drug Resistant (MDR) patients who are subjected to injections for a year or more including drugs under the direct observation of DOTS provider. XDR TB, both require a longer treatment. MDR-TB is resistant to TWO common TB drugs and XDR-TB is resistant to FOUR or more drugs.
Unfortunately, while the next line of battle for COVID-19 survivors may be stigmatization, a survivor already narrated how she lost a contract and some media interviews due to the virus. Tuberculosis patients have suffered the same fate and some have even been denied visa on that ground because of the travel policies of some countries.
If the notion that the virus was developed to reduce human population was anything to go by, although not virus but bacteria, one would have to think of Tuberculosis.
According to the World Health Organization, Tuberculosis happens to be the unprecedented world’s most infectious deadly killer with about 4500 lives lost per day and unfortunately, Nigeria is far worse hit by this global epidemic in Africa. Nigeria currently ranks 7th in the world and 2nd in Africa among the 30 countries with the highest burden of TB, TB/HIV, multi drug resistant TB.
Even though COVID-19 is an undesired battle unlike the US-Mexican battle, we should fight to count our gain beyond the defeat of COVID-19. The US did not only win more cities, it also ended slavery in those cities. If there is any freedom that Nigerians want, it is to also be free from TB. To breath and breath safe and to do away with the nightmare of being a Tuberculosis patient.
When this COVID 19 battle is over, the same resources, strength and energy should be deployed to fight Tuberculosis. All Public Service Announcement system should be sustained for TB. Corona virus today has become an household name in Nigeria, many thanks to the PSAs that were activated.
When this battle is over, let’s count our gain and endTB too.
Asoro Abubakri Olatunji is a TB Survivor and founder Tuberculosis And OTHER Communicable Disease Foundation