By Tina Amanda

A call to action from the civil society group, Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement (SCALE) project, has stressed the urgent need in the fight against tuberculosis (TB).

SCALE is urging governments at all levels, corporate bodies, stakeholders, and individuals to actively support activities related to TB care.

Speaking during a Private Sector Engagement Forum on the Nigeria Tuberculosis (TB) response, organized by Palladium under SCALE project, in partnership with the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Program (NTBLCP) Port Harcourt, Director Public Health, Cross Rivers State, Dr Jonah Bassey Ofo, said Tuberculosis is the second leading infectious killer globally after COVID-19 (above HIV and AIDS).

“Nigeria ranks first in Africa and sixth globally accounting for over 70% of the global gap in TB case detection and notification.

“Tuberculosis is a highly infectious disease it affects lots of people in the country and the disease is airborne, it is transmitted from person to person. When an individual inhales air from someone suffering from TB the person could get infected with the bacteria that causes tuberculosis.

“When an individual is infected after some time the person will come down with TB disease. In Nigeria lots of people be it children, women, and men get infected with the disease every year.

“It is a very big public health issue to us as health care providers. Funding activities that have to do with TB care are mostly donor-dependent, foreign donors make funds available for us to diagnose and treat patients.

“Out of Nigeria’s USS 388 million annual budget for TB, 6% is domestic-funded, 24% is donor-funded while 70% remains unfunded.

“Presently the donors are getting tired and there is a need for us as a country, as a people to see how we will live up to our responsibilities by making funds available for TB diagnosis and management.

Dr Stella Makpu, of the National Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Buruli Ulcer Control Program Abuja, said ninety percent of humans have in them the germ that causes tuberculosis.

“TB is in the air you find it anywhere if somebody that has TB coughs, sneezes, or talks the person releases an aerosol that contains the organism a nearby person can always breathe it in. It is risky to inhale air from TB patient q

“Ninety-something percent of the populace has that germ in us, because we do not have a predisposed immune system, so somewhere in the lungs they are quiet. But, if a person gets predisposed by contracting HIV or some disease like diabetes it could bring down the immune system and the TB will surface.

“gone are the days we sit in health facilities and allow patients to come to hospital, especially patients with TB. Now we are taking further steps to go the community and look out for them.

“That is why the SCALE project has decided to train the community and civil society groups. Now we reached out to the media as well as the private sector to help mobilize resources for treating TB patients and getting them diagnosed

“It is good we get them diagnosed on time to break of transmission, once that is done we will be able to curtail TB spread,. TB diagnosis and treatment is free”.

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