Breakthrough Action Nigeria gives hope to TB patients, ranks Anambra highest prevalent state


By Tony Okafor, Awka

A support agency, Breakthrough Action Nigeria, has given hope to tuberculosis patients across the country, stating that diagnosis and treatment of presumptive TB cases are free of charge.

The agency disclosed this during a
one-day media team engagement/training on Tuberculosis demand creation held at the IDK Learning Centre at Plot 18/20 Enugu Onitsha Expressway, Awka, Anambra State.

The training was organised by the Federal Ministry of Health in partnership with the KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation and Breakthrough Action Nigeria.

It support agency said,” TB is preventable, treatable and curable. TB tests and treatment are free of charge. People who are taking their TB medicines correctly and regularly cannot infect others.

‘There is no need to separate them or separate their food and drinks. Do not add to the problem of people on treatment for TB by making them ashamed of their sickness or denying them of any good thing including friendship and companionship.”

“Any person who has been coughing for two weeks or more or a person living with HIV with cough of any duration should go for a TB test.

It also gave a dedicated hotline 3340 for free tuberculosis test and treatment.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Ugochukwu Chukwulobelu, the
Programme Manager, Anambra State Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Buruli Ulcer Management, said the state ranks highest in both childhood and Adult Tuberculosis (TB) contributions in Nigeria.

He described TB as an airborne disease caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis which usually would attack the lungs and could also damage other parts of the body.

According to him, TB could spread through the air when a person with tuberculosis of the lungs or throat coughed, sneezed or talked.

He said,” According to statistics on TB burden, Nigeria ranks number six in the world and number one in Africa.

He said about 2600 tuberculosis cases were recorded in Anambra State from January to March, regretting that only N50m was budgeted for the fight against Tuberculosis by Anambra State Government in the 2023 fiscal year.

“With every LGA having TB cases, Anambra has the highest burden of TB cases and childhood TB contribution in the South-East and Nigeria. This is not a good thing for the state.

“To reduce the high burden of TB, the state government in collaboration with he National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP) and other partners, set up 14 laboratories with gene Xpert machines for diagnoses.

“We have about 800 Directly Observed Treatments (DOTS) centres for TB but the major problem here is lack of awareness among residents about TB, the diagnosis and treatment,” he said.

Chukwulobelu urged the media to intensify reports on the burden and symptoms of TB as well as how and where patients could get medical help.

“Persistent cough for two weeks or more, fever, unexplainable weight loss and drenching night sweats are signs used to screen patients. Residents should report suspected cases of TB within their communities.

He added, ” TB patients should also adhere religiously to their treatments to prevent drug resistance TB cases which is even more dangerous. Everyone has a role to play to reduce the burden of the disease.”

Also speaking, Dr Chijioke Oke of KNCV-Nigeria said children living with adults who had TB; children who are HIV positive; and malnourished children, would be easily at risk of getting TB.

Oke identified low childhood TB awareness, stigma, low funding for childhood TB and low index for suspicion for childhood TB by healthcare providers, as some of the challenges confronting the control of the disease in the state.

He said in modern science, children’s stool was required to test children for TB against the old excruciating methods.

He said, “Our major challenges with Childhood TB control in the state is that parent are scared and more often they would resist doctors taking their children’s stool for test.

“Some of them said we want to use their children’s stool for ‘juju’. It shows the level of ignorance and lack of awareness among residents.

A representative from the Federal Ministry of Health, Stella Eke, who spoke on the occasion enjoined the public to stop stigmatization and discrimination against TB patients, stating any TB patient who religiously took his drugs for three weeks was no longer infectious.

By Ifeizu Joe

Ifeizu is a seasoned journalist and Managing Editor of TheRazor. He has wide knowledge of Anambra State and has reported the state objectively for over a decade.

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