Private sector role essential for TB control, prevention – Official

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Director and National Coordinator, Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Buruli Ulcer Control Programme, Dr. Chukwuma Anyaike, says private sector involvement and collaboration is needed to combat tuberculosis in the country.

READ ALSO: Organization calls for Increased Funding to fight Tuberculosis

Anyaike explained that, the nation cannot think of kicking out TB without the active involvement of those in the private sector.

He disclosed this on Wednesday in Abuja after a road walk to commemorate the 2022 World TB Day.

The World TB Day is observed annually on March 24, to raise public awareness and understanding about one of the deadliest infectious diseases, as well as its devastating health, social and economic impacts.

The global campaign has “Invest To End TB. Save Lives” as the theme for 2022 and it is meant to emphasise the urgent need to invest resources necessary to ramp up the fight against the menace and realise the commitments made by global leaders.

The NTBLCP director explained that, there was a National Strategic Plan for 2021-2025, which captured all the strategies that would be put in place to combat the disease.

He said, “We are working based on our strategic plan, opening up the private sector because 60 per cent of Nigerians go to private health facilities. So, the strategy we should put in place is to bring in the private sector, philanthropists, the civil society, the media; everyone has a stake in this.”

“Don’t also forget that healthcare financing in this country is multifaceted – the federal government, the state government and local governments. So, everyone must be able to put in their own bit, then, we can expand to the private health facilities and other stakeholders.”

Dr. Anyaike said that Nigeria ranked number one in Africa and number six in the whole world in TB cases, adding, “if the disease burden was reduced in Nigeria, half of the burden in Africa would have been dealt with.”

The HIV and TB Practice Lead, Society for Family Health, Mr. Godpower Omoregie, said children were also more likely to be left severely affected by TB, as they were more vulnerable to complex forms of the disease such as TB meningitis.

Omoregie said that TB affects the youngest and weakest children, adding that those living with HIV were particularly at risk, along with those suffering from malnutrition, common childhood infections and intestinal worms.

According to him, children are most likely to be infected with TB by their parents and close relatives.

He, however, said that to promote ownership and sustainability, state governments should invest more in TB prevention and treatment because of the funding gaps resulting from donor fatigue.

Omoregie also urged state governments to focus more on TB testing and screening among students in primary and secondary schools.

Dr. John Osho, the programme manager for TB, Association for Reproductive and Family Health, said social stigma and the myths around TB still discourages people from recognising the symptoms and signs of the disease.

He said that many people still believe that it was not curable, thus, limiting their knowledge of the disease.

He added, “The national programme did a survey sometime ago and found that knowledge about the disease is still low among Nigerians.”

“So, this is the reason why we have to continue to reinforce education among the populace so that they can know the signs and symptoms, and government at all levels have to provide treatment facilities for them and make the diagnosis free.”

Director and Head of Advocacy, Communication and Social Mobilisation, NTBLPC, Mrs. Itohowo Uko, explained that the road walk was to raise awareness about TB.

She said “we want to encourage anyone that is experiencing a cough that has lasted for two weeks or more, or has been having weight loss, feeling fatigued or experiences excessive night sweat to go to any of our health facilities to be tested. If the person is found to have tuberculosis, he or she will be placed on treatment and the treatment is free.”

Uko said many people with the disease were discriminated against, noting that such act prevents them from seeking for help.

She, however, advised that treatment should be sought immediately to avoid spread once the disease has been detected.








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