By Brave Dickson
St Maureen’s Diagnostic Laboratory has collaborated with the Rivers State Ministry of Health and the German Leprosy and Tuberculosis Relief Association to put an end to the existence of Tuberculosis (TB) in Rivers State.
As part of its roles, St Maureen’s Diagnostic Laboratory has chosen to offer free TB test to as many that will visit the centre located along Eastern Bye-pass, Port Harcourt between the hours of 8 am to 5 pm from Monday to Friday and on Saturday from 8 am to 12noon.
In a motorcade TB awareness campaign, staff of St Maureen’s Diagnostic Laboratory distributed over 4,000 flyers to sellers, buyers and passers-by at the Amadi Ama and Abuloma markets in Port Harcourt with inscriptions such as, “TB is caused by germ,” “It is not hereditary,” and “It is curable.”
Speaking with our correspondent, the Managing Director, St Maureen’s Diagnostic Laboratory, Dr (Mrs) Ibitoroko George-Opudah described the programme as a mission to eradicate TB in Nigeria especially in Rivers State.
Dr (Mrs) George-Opudah said, “there is this mission to eradicate Tuberculosis, not just in Rivers State but also in Nigeria as a whole and the German Leprosy and Tuberculosis Relief Association in partnership with the Ministry of Health are actually at the front burner of this mission. They conducted a programme as part of the overall mission to see how standalone laboratories like ours can actually help to look out for missing cases on Tuberculosis. All of this is to ensure that TB is eradicated completely from our immediate environment.
“Generally, TB is a public health challenge that spreads very first through the air which makes controlling it to be somehow difficult. Some patients are also ashamed of coming out for proper diagnosis and treatment, so they end up dying as a result of hoarding TB. Some of these cases are also not reported, so sometimes we don’t really have accurate statistics of TB cases which in turn brings economic losses to the country.
“This programme is now in place to enable us comb every part of the state in ensuring that everybody has his or her own role to play that at the end of this campaign, we expect to have more people coming out to have proper diagnosis and treatment without being ashamed of TB because it is not a death sentence. TB treatment is free so we should take advantage of this opportunity.”
Also, the Medical Laboratory Scientist in charge of St Maureen’s Diagnostic Laboratory, Pastor Gift John Diepriye who went out with his colleagues on the day of his birthday to distribute TB awareness campaign flyers to people, said his passion is to see TB completely eradicated within humans.
Pastor Diepriye said, “Tuberculosis, as it were, is a killer disease. So what we are trying to do is to create an awareness that Tuberculosis is not inherited. It is caused by germ and can be cured. The more those infected with Tuberculosis do not know that it can be cured, the more they spread it via coughing, sneezing etc. So we are here to create the awareness and to curb the spread as well as to also provide the diagnosis and treatment of Tuberculosis in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Global Fund.
“This message does not only go to people who are Tuberculosis infected but also to those who are not infected. Because we are looking at the type of Rivers State that is knowledgeable after this campaign exercise against Tuberculosis. We are using this medium to call on those with Tuberculosis related symptoms to come to our facility for free diagnosis while we refer the positive patients to health facilities where they will get free treatment.”
Tuberculosis is a potentially serious infectious disease caused by pathogens known as Mycobacterium tuberculosis that mainly affects the human lungs.
The bacteria that cause tuberculosis are spread from one person to another through tiny droplets released into the air via coughs and sneezes, etc with associated symptoms like:
*Coughing that lasts for three or more weeks
*Coughing up blood
Chest pain, or pain with breathing or coughing
*Unintentional weight loss
*Loss of appetite among others.
Tuberculosis can also affect other parts of the body, including the kidneys, spine or brain. When TB occurs outside the lungs, signs and symptoms vary according to the organs involved. For example, tuberculosis of the spine may give back pain, and tuberculosis in the kidneys might cause blood in the urine.