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TB campaign team seeks more robust grassroots orientation from NOA

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By Regina Igwebuike and Chukwudi Nwauba

ANAMBRA States’  `Stop TB Campaign Team’ says it is seeking more robust grassroots orientation on TB from the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Anambra State.

  Addressing a one-day orientation programme, organised for the 21 LGAs’ community mobilisers (COMOs) at the NOA Headquarters, Awka, the states’ TB Surveillance Officer, Chukwuebuka Ugwu,  said that TB was a top infectious killer globally.

  Dr Ugwu said that Nigeria was one of the countries with a high burden of TB worldwide and that the state is among the 12 states in the country with a high burden of the disease.

  He emphasised that reducing TB in Anambra would require a multi-pronged approach to include increased funding, health system strengthening and improved TB surveillance, as well as preventive efforts from alcohol use, smoking and diabetes.

  He adds: “to ensure continued reduction in TB disease burden in Anambra, it is essential to understand not only the trends in TB burden but also the extent to which the risk factors contribute to TB disease burden to inform targeted and high-priority TB Programmes”.

  Dr Ugwu said that the aim of the orientation was to educate the COMOs, equipping them with the right information on TB for community sensitisation.

  According to him, TB is a major public challenge, especially in resource-limited settings because of factors like poverty, malnutrition and even HIV.

  He said that TB was an infectious disease caused by the bacterium mycobacterium tuberculosis, an acid-fast bacillus that is spread mainly via the respiratory tract.

  TB spreads person to person through the air via droplet nuclei, when an infected person coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings.

  According to him, transmission occurs when another person inhales the droplet nuclei.

  TB symptoms include chronic couch, fatigue, weight loss, anorexia, chills, fever and night sweating.

TB is curable if detected in time; the treatment is free, noting that all the Primary Health Centres in Anambra have DOTs facilities.

“TB treatment is for six months but if the patient will not take the drugs as prescribed, it may become drug-resistant: TB treatment can extend to12 months.’’

  According to him, limitation of funding, laboratory capacity, medicine supplies, personnel, facilities, poor community awareness as well as stigmatisation impede the eradication of the disease in the state.

 “Anambra has 546 treatment centres with only nine Genexpert machines. And so, we have gap in some LGAs.’’

  He explained that there was a need to redouble efforts by stakeholders to enhance the achievement of total eradication of the disease in Anambra.

  Dr Ugwu said that the team would need to leverage on NOA’s mandate for TB grassroots sensitisation, emphasising that “knowledge plus action is power’’.

  The surveillance officer, then, urged the COMOs to support the state in the fight against the disease.

NOA Director, Charles Nwoji, earlier in his opening remarks, said that TB was an ancient disease with so many misconceptions and myths.

  Nwoji re-assured of his officers readiness to work in synergy with the state team, pointing out that the TB awareness-creation should be sustained for more positive results.

  Dr Chike Ezeanya of the Initiative of Human Virology of Nigeria (IHVN), urged the government and public-private sectors to be more proactive in the fight against TB and other killer diseases ravaging the society.

  The Deputy Director, NOA, Sir Joseph Uchendu in a remark thanked the TB Surveillance Officer for exhibiting professionalism.

  He said that there was a critical need for public sensitisation on TB, urging the team to provide pamphlets, other materials to NOA field officers for updates.

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