Stakeholders seeks aggressive approach in tackling missing TB cases in Nigeria

Stakeholders seeks aggressive approach in tackling missing TB cases in Nigeria

Doosuur Iwambe, Abuja

Stakeholders in the nations health sector has said that for Nigeria to win its fight against the dreaded tuberculosis disease, it must embarked on an aggressive approach in tracing the missing cases, Daily Times reports.

While disclosing that about 75 percent of missing and undetected cases of TB  is presently found in the community, the stakeholders warned that the individuals with the disease poses a great risk to those around through their continued coughing.

Spaeaking during a virtual pre-conference, the NPO (TB) of the World Health Organization (WHO), and Board Chair of the Stop TB Nigeria, Dr. Ayodele Awe, stressed the need to integrate community system strengthening for effectively controlling HIV, TB, malaria and COVID-19 response.

“Integrating community system strengthening for effectively controlling HIV, TB, malaria and COVID-19 response is very important. Civil society plays prominent and important role in national development, particularly at the community level”, he said.

Dr Awe disclosed that the conference which was organised in collaboration with Stop TB Partnership Nigeria, with theme: Integrating Community Systems and Strengthening for Effective HIV, TB, Malaria and COVID-19 Response in Nigeria was apt adding that the CSOs plays prominent role in national development, particularly at the community level.

“We are happy that some key civil society organisations are already working at the community level, but we are hoping that there will be a more integrated civil society organisations because we are still not doing well in TB detection at the community level, particularly because of COVID-19 pandemic”, he added.

Earlier, the  Executive Director of KNCV TB Foundation Nigeria, Dr. Bethrand Odume in his address stress the need for a change of approach in tackling the diseases.

According to him, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic where all the parameters for TB interventions decrease to an average of 60 percent across the entire TB cascade.

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“We need to begin to work with the partners that are already rooted within the community. In TB interventions, we look at hospital attendees, presumptives we are identifying, etc., before we identify the TB cases and roll them in care.

“With the outbreak  of COVID-19, all the parameters for TB interventions decrease to an average of 60 percent across the entire TB cascade. The primary cascade there is facility attendance. When people are sick and don’t come to the facility, they are actually in the community. COVID-19 actually made us rethink our strategy and now we are focusing more on community-based interventions. I think that we really need to partner with the CSOs that are already rooted. Since we started moving into the communities, most of the TB cases that have been missing in the facilities are actually being found”, he added.

Also the National Community TB Taskforce, Dr Chijioke Osakwe in his presentation said,  “we must commit to involve affected communities and civil society in the TB response, and to develop community-based health services through approaches that protect and promote equity, ethics, gender equality and human rights.

“Lockdown and fear of COVID-19 reduced hospital attendance by almost 50 percent. Some facilities closed down as a result of infection of health workers with COVID-19, while diagnostic efforts reduced significantly. Also, health care workers were reluctant to attend to patients, disease control efforts broke down, and community outreaches stopped.

“There is therefore the need to strengthen the integration and functioning of community steering committees in the various programs, create enabling environments and advocacy, form community networks, linkages, partnerships and coordination, and improve resources and capacity building. Others are increase community activities and service delivery, strengthen organisational and leadership capacities, and ensure monitoring, evaluation and planning.”

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Goodness Nwogwugwu

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