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World TB Day: Anambra conducts free tests

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ANAMBRA State, Thursday, joined the rest of the world to mark the 2022 Global Tuberculosis (TB) by carrying out free TB screening tests in Amansea, Awka North Local Government Area of the state.

  The World TB Day was commemorated on March 24 each year with the objective of raising awareness about the devastating health, social, economic consequences of TB and to set up efforts to end the TB epidemic.

  Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Mr Linus Nwankwo said that the free screening test was part of the activities lined up with TB partners with the Ministry of Health to mark this year’s celebration.

  He explained that Anambra has over 700 TB treatment facilities with 13 ultra modern PCR testing equipment called Genexpert and all the services are free.

  Mr Nwankwo in a press briefing in his office in Awka, noted that the emphasis was for the public to join hands in TB awareness creation because early detection of the disease would help a lot to curb its spread.

  “Let’s remind ourselves that TB is a communicable disease, which has been present in humans since ancient times, usually caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium TB.

  “It generally affects the lungs known as Pulmonary TB; it can also affect other parts of the body when the infection spreads outside the lungs causing other kinds of TB collectively known as Extra Pulmonary TB. 

  “Most TB infections may show no symptoms, in which case, it is known as latent TB.

  “Around 10 per cent of these latent infections progress to active disease, which if left untreated, kill about half of those affected. 

  “Typical symptoms of active TB are chronic cough that may last for more than two weeks and may come with blood containing mucus, fever, night sweats and weight loss,” he said.

  According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics, TB has remained one of the world’s deadliest infectious diseases.

  It also showed that each day no fewer than 4100 people lost their lives to TB, while close to 28,000 people took ill with this preventable, curable disease then at 2020 alone, 9.9 million people took ill with 1.5 million deaths.

  Mr Nwankwo noted that global efforts to combat TB has helped saved an estimated 66 million lives since the year 2000, the COVID-19 pandemic reversed years of progress made to end TB.

  “Some of the preventive measures against TB includes, screening those at high risk, household, workplace and social contacts of people with active TB.

  “Early detention and treatment of cases, and vaccination with BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin) vaccine and the current treatment of all forms of TB is free but we encourage early detention and treatment of all cases.”

  WHO Professional Officer, TB South East, Dr. Vivian Ibeziakor said that this year’s celebration was important because COVID-19 affected their goals in TB.

  “We are looking at reducing the cost that people spend in order to access care as well as ensure that they are well taken care of while they are on TB treatment.

  State TB Programme Manager, Dr. Ugochukwu Chukwulobelu said that all hands must be on deck so as to end the disease.

  This year’s celebration showcased radio talks, road shows and all the state TB partners participated fully during the celebration.

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