Blogs » Arts & Culture » Cultural and Environmental Factors in Health

Cultural and Environmental Factors in Health

  • Introduction to Global Health: Tuberculosis in Nigeria

    The World Health Organization (WHO) declared tuberculosis (TB) an emergency in 1993. Currently, it remains one of the most widespread and death-causing diseases all over the world. Research says that due to cultural, economic and political reasons, developing countries are more subjected to the disease. For instance, according to 2016 data, Nigeria is in the top-10 countries list for the highest tuberculosis burden (TB), having around 570,000 cases of newly discovered patients a year. TB is the most acute health issue in Nigeria due to its poor economic conditions, and although steps are taken towards the situation improvement, the country still suffers

    Tuberculosis is a disease being rather complicated to diagnose and demanding constant attention, medicines and medical procedures easing its flow. Therefore, among the causes of its spread, professionals distinguish mostly poverty, economic, and cultural factors . In particular, poverty and low income lead people to live under unsatisfactory sanitary conditions, contributing to disease distribution among the population. Such an environment, together with the fact Nigeria is an African country, its dry climate and a lot of dust contribute to the prevalence of causative agents in the environment. Consequently, poverty prevents people from getting medical care, and healthy persons live together with sick that increases the likelihood of them being infected. Moreover, the situation is worsened by the fact that out of 88% of people diagnosed with TB, only 27 % are aware of what is causing the disease. Finally, Nigeria is a diverse country being home for a wide variety of ethnicities and cultures. As a result, cultural beliefs and values prevent people from going to a specialist and receive particular treatment techniques. Such fragmentary system leads to a low disease detection and recovery rate. In its turn, the healthcare system is fragmented and underfunded, leading to the inability to provide specialized and high-quality care in the treatment and prevention of TB. The foremost problem concerning tuberculosis is its low diagnosis rate and the lack of diagnostic specialists and tools. Thus, environmental, cultural, and economic factors influence TB spread in the country greatly and are barriers to its prevention and treatment.

    Today, Nigeria is the third country in the world by tuberculosis prevalence after China and India. The disease affects the most productive age groups, men and women from 22 to 34, comprising almost 34% of all cases in Nigeria. The second and third age groups affected are young people from 15 to 24 and from 24 to 44, being 15% and 16% respectively. Concerning gender, tuberculosis affects 48% of men and 52% of women, which is approximately equally according to the WHO (2016). The problem greatly influences society in terms of the awareness lack, its further fragmentation and disintegration, as well as the total mortality rate in the country. Additionally, society is in a vicious circle, and tuberculosis is often called ‘a Third World disease’ being characteristic of underdeveloped countries. On the other side, TB prevents the country from development due to the lack of health of its inhabitants. Despite the fact that in 1991 Nigeria launched the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme, the tuberculosis problem is underfunded from the governmental side and is almost completely donor-based from international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), such as USAID, UNFPA, WHO and others working towards the relief of the situation. External subsidies are extremely required since the country cannot afford state funding of relief programs. Currently, the WHO estimates that $230 is required to treat one case of tuberculosis, being an unbearable sum for population members, as well as for governmental structures to fund. The national anti-tuberculosis strategy aimed at a TB reduction requires $406 million to decrease the number of cases by 2030. The introduction of such programs and funding from NGOs can help to address the problem and improve prevention measures, as well as public awareness and diagnosis.

    To conclude, Nigeria is one of the most tuberculosis-affected countries in the world. Among the causes increasing the TB burden, there are poverty, poor living conditions, health system fragmentation, lack of awareness, and underfunding. Although local and international organizations are making efforts to decrease the prevalence of the disease, it still requires a lot of monetary and human initiatives.