The Federal government has taken its campaign train and free testing for tuberculosis to Gishiri Community in Abuja Municipal Area Council of the FCT.
This comes as Nigeria retains its third high ranking after India and China in terms of tuberculosis cases.
Every year, around 245,000 Nigerians die from tuberculosis (TB) and about 590,000 new cases occur (of these, around 140,000 are also HIV-positive). TB accounts for more than 10% of all deaths in Nigeria.
Leading the teaming to the community, the Executive Director, National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme, Dr. Chukwuma Anyaike said this was part of the government effort to fish out missing cases.
The first week of August every year has been set aside in Nigeria to raise awareness of Tuberculosis symptoms and the importance of early diagnosis as well as ensure that the country meets its target of eradicating the disease by twenty-thirty.
The awareness campaign organised by the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme in collaboration with other development partners was also aimed at changing the narrative of Nigeria as one of the high TB burden countries globally.
“This is one of our strategies towards continuing the process of awareness, funding, and fishing out the missing cases. It is also very important to know that Tuberculosis does not sit down in one place. As we are wasting time, Tuberculosis is infecting more people in the villages.”
“We are here to tell the community that TB is a very big problem and it is killing people; it is not a respecter of persons or status. And because it is in the air, it is more dangerous. We usually have such gatherings every March 24, but we decided not to wait till 2023 to bring interventions.”
“We don’t want people to die from TB because it has a cure and can be prevented. Funding for this intervention comes from partners like the USAID, Stop TB Partnership, WHO, IHVN, and other partners.”
Dr. Anyaike said the government would not rest in its oars to ensure that TB was eradicated in the country.
Dr. Anyaike who commended the community for the cooperation advised them to always seek medical attention for screening and treatment as no citizen deserves to die of tuberculosis.
On her part, the Deputy Project Director, TB and Malaria Control, Breakthrough Action, Dr. Bolatito Ayenigba explained that the exercise was to encourage massive testing for early detection and treatment to prevent the spread of the disease, especially in the rural area.
According to her, “The exercise is being carried out in all the states of the federation, this was in all realisation that activities on World TB day were not enough to ensure more people are aware of TB, therefore, the need for continuous awareness creation to win the war against the disease”.
The Chief of Gishiri community Mr Bala Akusu commended the team for the choice of the community and pledged to support the campaign against the disease.
“We are very happy with this programme as this intervention will reduce the disease burden of TB in our community. Also, our Primary Health Centre is working very well.” he added.