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TB: We’ll continue to support Nigeria, WHO assures

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L-R: Ag. Coordinator, WHO Ngeria Non-Communicable Disease Cluster, Dr. Linda Ozor, reading the WHO Representative’s speech at the summit as the Minister of Health Prof. Isaac Adewole and the Director, Public Health, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Evelyn Ngige listen.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday, September 3,  asured Nigeria of its continued support in the quest to effectively control the scourge of tuberculosis which reportedly  claims  no fewer than  420 lives everyday making the country the 7th with the highest burden in the world and 2nd highest in Africa.

The WHO Country Representative Dr. Wondimagegnehu Alemu gave the assurance at the 2-day  Public Private Mix summit for TB Control in Lagos,  commending the Minister of Health Prof. Isaac Adewole for increasing case detection rate  of the disease from 17% to 24% – a 41% increase from previous years.

Represented by Dr, Linda Ozor, Ag Coordinator, Non-Communicable disease cluster in the Nigerian office, Dr Alemu however listed some challenges facing the country and urged Nigeria to strive to overcome them.

For instance, he said, the country needs to improve its case  detection drive to detect the 300, 000 cases out of the 400, 000 cases reported by the country.

Also, he said, the country needs to expand its TB diagnostic coverage nationwide. This he said should include the optimisation of the existing gene Xpert diagnostic machine (390) and adding more.

“Improve screening of chronically coughing cases at health facilities. Increase involvement of private sector in TB control programme (as) data show that only 14% of private health institutions are collaborating with the  nation TB control programme ,and only one in five (19%) TB cases are being managed at private health clincs.

“Honourable Minster Sir, declaring  2017 as the year for accelerated TB case finding with clear strategy and actions at all levels has worked. We are very much encouraged with your commitment and eager to support your vision of reaching more Nigerians in 2018 and beyond,” Dr. Alemu said.

The  Commissioner of Health for Lagos state, the state with the highest burden of TB in Nigeria, Dr. Jide idris,  briefed participants about the progress so far made by the state in controling the disease. According to him, the state has 926 treatment centres covering all 57 LGAs/LCDAs, 108 TB microscopy and 30 GeneXpert sites with at least one GeneXpert machine in each of the LGAs.

“With the support of our partners we also have various case finding activities going on. These include house-to-house  case search by community TB workers, tracing of contacts of diagnosed TB cases as well as mobile TB diagnosis using the Wellness on Wheel truck.

“Our health workers regularly sensitise on TB during community outreaches, anti-natal and child immunisation clinics,” he further informed.

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