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“The traditional healer gave me a drink to stop me coughing and said that the symptoms would eventually pass.”
Ignorance of tuberculosis is a huge problem in Nigeria. Of every 100 TB sufferers only 15 are detected and treated, whereas patients have only a fifty percent chance of survival if left untreated. Damien Foundation faces some pretty stiff challenges in this densely populated African country.
The Harmattan, a dry wind which blows in from the Sahara, has left a golden yellow dusting over the corrugated roofing, and in the shimmering midday sun the city of Ibadan appears cast though a retro-filter.
“I had heard about tuberculosis, but didn't know what the symptoms were”, says 24-year-old Taofeek. His skinny body and the fact that his knees are wider than his stick-like legs tell us that it was quite some time before he began the treatment.
Hamred is a bus driver. He contracted tuberculosis four years ago and was put on a course of pills. “I felt better pretty quickly, was able to go back to work and stopped the treatment early.
“To get rid of my multi-drug resistant tuberculosis they started my treatment by giving injections and medicines every day. It was super-intensive”, says bus driver Hamred. Not only is the treatment intensive, but it is expensive: 3,500 dollars a month. “If Damien Foundation hadn't stepped in, I
The TB treatment centre in the Jericho district of Ibadan has 25 hospital beds for patients with tuberculosis, all of which are occupied. “A good 20 percent of the patients also have HIV”, says Doctor Osman
Waris has recovered and can return to school. Damien Foundation spoke to the school beforehand, to make it clear that Waris is no longer infectious and that there is no reason for concern or to exclude him.
Every year 10.4 million people around the world contract tuberculosis and almost 2 million of these die, making TB the world's deadliest infectious disease. The overwhelming majority of sufferers live in poor countries with inadequate healthcare. Countries like Nigeria.
A quarter of the world’s population is infected, among which 5 to 15% are at risk of developing tuberculosis later on.
In Nigeria, tuberculosis affects almost half a million people a year. Barely a fifth are detected and treated. And yet TB can be cured if caught early enough.
Some 25% of the patients who relapse have developed a resistant form of tuberculosis. Treatment against this form is longer, more toxic and less likely to succeed.
To these figures we must annually add another half million new cases of multi-drug resistant TB around the world.