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SCALE Urges Immediate Action in the Fight Against Tuberculosis

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SCALE Urges Immediate Action in the Fight Against Tuberculosis

Katherine Abayomi

…says TB 2nd leading infectious killer disease after COVID-19, HIV

The civil society group Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement (SCALE) project has issued an urgent call to action, emphasizing the critical need to intensify efforts against tuberculosis (TB).

The group is calling on governments at all levels, corporate bodies, stakeholders, and well-meaning Nigerians to support activities related to TB care to stop the spread of tuberculosis across the state.

Speaking during a Private Sector Engagement Forum on the Nigeria Tuberculosis (TB) response, organized by Palladium under the SCALE project in partnership with the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Program (NTBLCP) Port Harcourt, Director Public Health, Cross Rivers State, Dr Jonah Bassey Ofo, said there is a 70% gap in TB funding.

“Nigeria ranks first in Africa and sixth globally, accounting for over 70% of the global gap in TB case detection and notification.

“Tuberculosis is a highly infectious disease that affects many people in the country. It is airborne and transmitted from person to person. When an individual inhales air from someone suffering from TB, the person could get infected with the bacteria that causes tuberculosis.

“When an individual is infected, the person will come down with TB disease after some time. In Nigeria, lots of people, be it children, women, and men, get infected with the disease every year.

“It is a huge public health issue to us as health care providers. Funding activities related to TB care are mostly donor-dependent; foreign donors make funds available for us to diagnose and treat patients.

“Out of Nigeria’s USS 388 million annual budget for TB, 6% is domestic-funded, 24% is donor-funded while 70% remains unfunded.

“Presently, the donors are getting tired, and we need to see how we will live up to our responsibilities by making funds available for TB diagnosis and management.

Dr Stella Makpu of the National Tuberculosis, Leprosy, and Buruli Ulcer Control Program Abuja said ninety percent of humans have the germ that causes tuberculosis in them.

“TB is in the air. You can find it anywhere. If somebody who has TB coughs, sneezes, or talks, the person releases an aerosol that contains the organism, and a nearby person can always breathe it in. It is risky to inhale air from TB patient.

“Ninety-something percent of the populace has that germ in us because we do not have a predisposed immune system, so somewhere in the lungs, they are quiet. But, if a person gets predisposed by contracting HIV or some disease like diabetes, it could bring down the immune system, and the TB will surface.

“gone are the days we sit in health facilities and allow patients to come to hospital, especially patients with TB. Now, we are taking further steps to go to the community and look out for them.

“That is why the SCALE project has decided to train the community and civil society groups. Now, we have reached out to the media as well as the private sector to help mobilize resources for treating TB patients and getting them diagnosed.

“It is good we get them diagnosed on time to break the transmission. Once that is done, we will be able to curtail TB spread. TB diagnosis and treatment are free.”

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