COVID-19: When This Battle Is Over - THE NEW DAWN ONLINE


Tuesday, April 14, 2020

COVID-19: When This Battle Is Over

By: Asoro, Abubakri Olatunji

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.

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 no man respecter, 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 patient 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 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 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 
TB Survivor and founder Tuberculosis And OTHER Communicable Disease Foundation 

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