- The Federal Government has embarked on a drive to wipe Tuberculosis disease away from the country
- The effort by the Nigerian government follows the need to detect about 300,000 Tuberculosis cases which are not accounted for
- The drive to wipe the disease from the country started with a massive screening exercise in the Gishiri community of the Federal Capital Territory
The Nigerian government on Thursday, August 4, began a massive community screening exercise to find missing cases of Tuberculosis - about 300,000 cases - across the country.
The first league of the exercise took place at the Gishiri community in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory focused on screening and educating residents on the best practices they can adopt to prevent contracting or spreading the disease.
Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis that usually attacks the lungs.
However, the bacteria can also attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain, presenting symptoms like cough (sometimes blood-tinged), weight loss, night sweats and fever.
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Speaking at the exercise venue, the national coordinator of the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP) of the Federal Ministry of Health, Chukwuma Anyaike, said it is important that Nigerians in every nook and cranny of the nation are made aware of where and how to get help when needed.
Anyaike added that citizens and residents of every community must be enlightened on the signs and symptoms of Tuberculosis as he confirmed that TB is in the air and it is dangerous.
"We are here to tell the community that TB is a very big problem and it is killing people; it is not a respecter of persons or status. And because it is in the air, it is more dangerous.
"We usually have such gatherings every March 24, but we decided not to wait till 2023 to bring interventions.
“If you are coughing for more than two weeks, you can call 3340 to be attended to. It is not only for coughing, but if you feel sick, you should visit the hospital for a proper check."
Support for residents of communities
He further noted that with support from communities across states, the Federal Ministry of Health and its partners are assured that TB can be kicked out of Nigeria.
“We don’t want people to die from TB because it has a cure and can be prevented. Funding for this intervention comes from partners like the USAID, Stop TB Partnership, WHO, IHVN and other partners.
“The community must work hand-in-hand to ensure that persons who test positive for TB take their drug so they don’t infect others. Also, anybody who has received treatment should not be discriminated against.
“This is one of our strategy towards continuing the process of awareness, funding and fishing out the missing cases. It is also very important to know that Tuberculosis does not sit down in one place. As we are wasting time, Tuberculosis is infecting more people in the villages”.
WHO reacts, makes pledge to ending TB in Nigeria
In his address, Enang Oyama, the World Health Organisation Representative confirmed that TB is of public health importance.
Oyama said that WHO is committed to helping the Gishiri community and every other village across Nigeria to ensure the disease is prevented and those affected are well taken care of.
“Tuberculosis has been leaving with us for a very long time, and it is affecting everyone as no one is spared particularly children, youths, men and women and it can also affect us physically and economically”
“It is important that you see this opportunity as a way to be able to educate and create awareness for your people."
Also speaking, the deputy project director of the TB Breakthrough Action Nigeria, Bolatito Ayenigba, said Nigerians must be made to understand that TB testing is free and they have the right to demand it.
Speaking on the importance of the massive screening, Ayenigba said the exercise is aimed at making sure everyone including children is aware of TB and has access to testing.
He also noted that the team is conducting integrated services in facilities across Nigeria not only for TB but to ensure that people are receiving COVID-19 vaccines and are getting tested for HIV too.
“People need to be well. With all the problems in Nigeria health is wealth so NTBLCP has used this opportunity to be able to take the treatment and the services to the people so that they can tested.”
Expressing his apprecaition, the village head of Nbwaha in Gishiri area of the FCT, Bala Akusu, said the community consist of every tribe in Nigeria.
Akusu noted that the outreach will help them to have access to testing, treatment and care for Tuberculosis and other diseases.
“We are very happy with this programme as this intervention will reduce the disease burden of TB in our community. Also, our Primary Health Centre is working very well.”
'It's better imagined than experienced', TB survivor calls for improved post-treatment care
There is a need for survivors of Tuberculosis in the country to be adequately taken care of, an advocate had said.
Adebola Adams who also survived the disease called for a state of emergency to be declared on all forms of TB management in Nigeria
According to Adams, survivors of TB need good nutrition, and psycho-social care among many others to reintegrate into the system.
Experts say Nigeria experiencing 70% funding gap in fight against Tuberculosis
The Nigerian government had been asked to improve its commitment to the fight against Tuberculosis in the country.
The call was made by some experts from the KNCV Foundation in the country on Wednesday, July 14.
Financing, the COVID-19 pandemic and many others have affected the ongoing fight against Tuberculosis in Nigeria.