By Danmaryam Zayamu
Eradicating Tuberculosis (TB) in Nigeria within the shortest time is possible if the Federal Government, stakeholders and the general public, especially those living in local communities take the necessary steps.
Grant Manager for Global Fund at the National TB Programme, Dr. Emperor Ubochioma, disclosed this in an exclusive interview with ExpressDay at the end of a 2- day brainstorming session with stakeholders on the KNCV TB Foundation Nigeria Local Organisation Network (LON) Grant Application.
The meeting was put together by KNCV TB Foundation Nigeria, in Abuja.
TB, according to experts, is caused by bacteria which usually attack the lungs. It can spread through the air when a person with TB of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, or talks.
Ogochioma revealed that there is the need for intensive awareness campaign in order to erase the misconceptions people have about TB as a disease.
“We need more government commitment to address certain areas like ensuring that the health care facilities are working, ensuring that the human resource needs are met so that the donor money will compliment what actually the government left as a gap.
“Two; to improve our diagnostic capacity so that any person who have the disease will have access to diagnosis and also have access to a place where they can treat it.
“It is advised that through the support of government and donor that every facility should be able to provide one kind of TB service and report any TB case to the programme and to the government once a case of TB is notified,” he said.
Dr Ogochioma however, noted that once a person commenced TB treatment within two weeks, most of the bacilli are dead and the patient will be less infectious to the community.
“The most important thing is early detection and treatment,” he stressed.
Responding to a question to the dearth of testing sites where most of the local people reside in Nigeria, the expert said: “You know one of the key challenges we have in the country is health infrastructure. In some places, because TB is an infectious disease, it becomes difficult to use all the kind of health facilities we have now.
“So, if government can improve on those health facilities and also ensure that resources are there for the services to be provided in those health facilities, then access can be created for people to have more health facilities.
“Actually, TB is really not a disease of the rich. Very few rich people actually get the disease and that is why we are putting more strength in community intervention, using private sector, pharmacies, patent medicine vendors because we know that our people at the lower level visit these facilities before they go to the hospital.
“So, it is only when this sickness cannot be treated at that level by those people then they will now think about going to the hospital as a second option.”
He, therefore, advised people residing in local communities to watch out the moment a person begins to cough and “once it gets to two weeks or you find any of your neighbor who have been coughing for two weeks or more, you have to assist the person to go the nearest hospital to get treatment.”
According to him, all diagnostic test and treatment in government hospitals for TB are free.
“The only thing people living in the local communities need is information because TB is gotten from the air,” Dr. Ogochioma said.