Nigeria’s frustratingly slow response to the Boko Haram abductions of more than 200 schoolgirls is mirrored by its apparent lack of attention to another crisis with deadly implications.
Last year, a national survey showed that there are nearly five times as many people with smear-positive tuberculosis in Nigeria as were previously thought. Young children are at special risk of having a severe form of TB, which can leave them blind, deaf, paralyzed or mentally disabled. A pregnant woman with TB has a high risk that her baby will be born prematurely or have a low birth weight. TB generally can be cured, provided patients have easy access to diagnosis, treatment and support services.
But Nigeria is allocating relatively little for TB, spending less than some poorer countries. It is time Nigeria confronted the TB challenge head on to protect all of its people, including its children.
As it does so, the United States should continue its TB support for Nigeria. Unfortunately, President Obama has requested a 19 percent cut in USAID’s TB program , which has been helping Nigeria respond to the crisis.
David Bryden, Washington
The writer is the TB advocacy officer for Results.