Stakeholders Take TB Campaign To Abuja Streets

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The Nigerian Government and stakeholders have taken the Check Am O!” campaign to the streets of Abuja on free diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

The 2023 World Tuberculosis Day which is observed every year on March 24, is with theme: “Yes! We can end TB”.

Speaking at the launch of the campaign, the Director, National Programmatic Drug-resistant TB (PMDT) at the Ministry of Health, Dr Ahmad Ozi said, the awareness was necessary in view of the fact that the 2030 target of eliminating TB in the country was no longer visible.

Although the federal government has put in place programmes for free diagnosis and treatment of TB, many Nigerians are not aware of such existing programmes” he said.

Ozi said out of the 400 new TB cases that were detected in 2022, only 280 cases were notified in the country.

“We are thinking of ending TB by 2030 but as it is we still have a long way to go in Nigeria because from what we have in 2021, we were able to notify over 280 new cases of TB out of about 400.

“We have covered up to 60 per-cent of the notification rate leaving about 40 per cent. With that you see that we still have a long way to go,” he said.

Ozi said the walk is holding in the 36 states including local government areas.

Also speaking, the deputy project director for tuberculosis and malaria at Breakthrough Action Nigeria, Dr Bolatito Aiyenigba noted that many Nigerians were not aware of free TB testing and treatment programmes.

This year, stakeholders have adopted a new approach to involve everyone in the fight against TB through collaborative efforts.

Aiyenigba added that raising awareness about TB could help people realise that not every cough is a symptom of COVID-19 or other coughs but could be TB, and prompt them to seek appropriate treatment.

“Testing and treatment for tuberculosis are free, and surprisingly, many Nigerians are unaware of this. The national program has created a campaign called ‘check-am ooh’ to spread awareness because ‘who no go no go know’,” Aiyenigba said.

Also, the executive director of the KNCV TB Foundation Nigeria, Dr Berthrand Odume commended the efforts of donor partners and the government in fighting TB.

He highlighted that Nigeria has made substantial progress in TB control, but a lot more effort is required to meet the global target.

Odume emphasised the need to consider people in rural communities, as most TB cases are coming from those areas.

“In the last three years, the national programme and partners have been able to move the case detection from less than 100,000 to about 200,000 at the last reporting period. [I think] that is a very substantial effort.

“Doing this has increased treatment coverage which was 44 per cent at the last reporting.

“To meet the global target for TB control in Nigeria, people in the rural communities need to be considered. Most of the cases are coming from the rural communities,” he said.

The national coordinator of the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP), Dr.Chukwuma Anyaike, called for cooperation from the public and stakeholders to make Nigeria completely TB-free.

He explained the importance of observing World TB Day, noting that in a densely populated country like Nigeria, airborne communicable diseases such as TB can spread easily if basic hygiene is not followed. Anyaike urged stakeholders to focus on raising awareness of the severity of TB and the actions that should be taken to prevent its spread.

“Tuberculosis can spread easily, and symptoms do not show immediately. If you know you were infected, treat it right away.

“It’s not like most things where you take an antibiotic for a week or two and you are done. This can go on for months,” he said.

The WHO said in spite of TB being a vaccine-preventable disease, statistics show that every year, about 245,000 Nigerians die from the disease and about 590,000 new cases occur,Nigeria ranks 6th among the 30 countries with highest TB burden in the world and 1st in Africa.

The world health body said Nigeria accounts for four per cent of the global gap between new TB cases and notified cases (diagnosed, treated and reported.



NAN/Oyenike Oyeniyi

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