The Deputy Director of the Health Promotion unit of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Dr. OluFemi Ayoola, has disclosed that poor perception about Tuberculosis (TB) is limiting the progress in the fight against the disease in Nigeria.
He stated this at the 2nd virtual media briefing organized by Stop TB Partnership Nigeria.
While saying that TB was still a problem in Nigeria, Dr. Ayoola called for the involvement of all stakeholders including the government and the private sector in the fight against the disease.
According to him: “Awareness of TB in Nigeria is low, but awareness is not the major problem we have now. If you do random statistics, people have heard of TB in one way or the other, but the issue is that the perception about TB is very low.
“We have poor perception and that is if you compare it with COVID-19.
“The first thing we need to do is to change the perception of TB in Nigeria to let people see that TB is still a problem and that it can kill. It is endemic in Nigeria. We need to blow it up to an emergency so that people can see that it is dangerous as Covid-19.
“We need to use multiple channels to bring all the stakeholders together including government and private.
“We need to bring all stakeholders on board to let TB be perceived as an emergency in Nigeria and with this we are going to deploy more resources for TB at all levels.”
On his part, the Chairman of the Board of Stop TB Partnership Nigeria, Dr. Ayodele Awe, said that Nigeria is among the countries with the highest TB burden in Africa, hence, the need to improve on awareness about the disease.
He admonished TB patients to also avail the right information of their situation to experts so that they can get the right help at the right time.
Dr. Awe also charged experts on the need to always ask patients the right questions in order to get the information they need.
Speaking, the Director, Head of Advocacy, and Social Mobilization of the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme, Mrs Itohowo Uko, revealed that due to the COVID-19 the health workers were reluctant to actually handle samples to TB testing because of the similarities in the symptoms of the TB and Covid-19.
This, she said, has hampered negatively on the TB programme in Nigeria.
“Because of the pandemic, many of our health workers have actually refused to give attention of our patients because of fear of being affected.
“We also have the issue of Gene Xpert machines being used in the testing of COVID-19 which has reduced the number of samples of TB that can actually be tested in those states.
“Seen these challenges, as a programme, we have decided to put some mitigation plans in order to be able to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on the TB services in the country.”