World TB day: Rivers fifth highest burden state in Nigeria – Chike

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…..urges religious, community leaders to prevail on their people to go for free screenings, treatment.

Lorine Emenike

World Tuberculosis (TB) Day is marked every March 24 to raise public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of TB, and to step up efforts to end the global TB epidemic.

TB remains the world’s deadliest infectious killer. Each day, over 4000 people lose their lives to TB and close to 30,000 people fall ill with this preventable and curable disease.
Global efforts to combat TB have saved an estimated 58 million lives since the year 2000. To accelerate the TB response in countries to reach targets – Heads of State came together and made strong commitments to end TB at the first-ever UN High-Level Meeting in September 2018.

The theme of World TB Day 2020 – ‘It’s Time’ – puts the accent on the urgency to act on the commitments made by global leaders to scale up access to prevention and treatment; build accountability; ensure sufficient and sustainable financing including for research; promote an end to stigma and discrimination, and promote an equitable, rights-based and people-centred TB response.

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In Rivers state, the Commissioner for Health, Professor Princewill Chike says Nigerian is ranking the highest TB burden nation in Africa, as Rivers State is the fifth highest-burden state in the country and called for active screening by suspected TB carriers in tertiary and selective healthcare facilities in the state.

He said the state has increased the number of direct observed treatments short course to 525 major private hospitals, 125 microscopic centres while over 1258 medical vendors have been engaged for referrals, noting that such improvements have helped TB notifications to 3, 728 persons in 2019 with a very high cure rate.

Professor Chike said the commitment of the River state governor is highly commendable and urged Religious leaders to key into the fight to eradicate TB by playing a vital role.

He added that TB is not a death sentence, it is curable and called on the general public who might have coughed for two weeks with symptoms to go for free diagnosis and treatment provided by the state government.

He further called on community-based organizations to support the community volunteers to help talk to their people that TB test is not for ritual purpose but for diagnoses in case of an eventuality, treatment can take place.