The National Tuberculosis and Leprocy Control Programme (NTLCP) held a medical outreach to create awareness about Tuberculosis (TB) in Lugbe community of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The NTLCP, in collaboration with other partners, conducted the Community TB Outreach on Wednesday, with health talks, medical tests, awareness on how to detect, diagnose and identify TB.
The outreach was in commemoration of the World Tuberculosis Day, annually celebrated on March 24 around the globe to create awareness about the devastating health and economic impact of tuberculosis.
It also aims to accelerate efforts to end the global TB epidemic.
The theme for the 2021 celebration is “Clock is ticking to end tuberculosis in Nigeria”, with the slogan: “That cough fit be Tuberculosis not COVID, check am oh.”
The Chairman of the 2021 TB Day Committee, Dr Ayodele Awe, said the medical outreach was necessary to educate the people at the grassroots about tuberculosis.
Awe said that the Lugbe community was chosen because of its pupulation and proximity to the FCT.
He added that “we are here to increase awareness on TB. No one needs to die from TB. We are here to tell everyone about the signs and symptoms of TB. Any cough for two weeks is suspected to be TB.
“We have provided the equipment to check anyone that is coughing. The test is free of charge. You do not need to go to the hospital to check, we have brought the doctors to you.”
Mrs Itoghowo Uko, the Head, Advocacy and Communication and Social Mobilisation of NTLCP , said that the awareness outreach was something to be thrilled about.
She added that “knowledge is power, when you give an individual the right information, he or she will be able to take decisions on his or her life from an informed position.
“We have been able to sensitise the community on the simple signs of tuberculosis and the need for them to go for test. We know that COVID-19 has devastated the health system and has been discouraging people from going to the hospital.
“But with what we have done today, and the responses received, we believe that more people will do the right thing whenever they have a cough or know someone that has a cough that has lasted two weeks or more.”
She explained that the more aware Nigerians were about TB, the sooner the burden would reduce.
Dr Ngozi Ebisike, the Programme Officer, FCT TB and Leprosy, said the World TB Day was not happening only in Nigeria and narrated the history of how the day came about.
Ebisike said FCT residents could access TB care and treatment at the National Hospital, Abuja (NHA), adding that all district hospitals in the territory have centres for TB treatment.
She advised Nigerians nationwide to call 3340 for information on TB.
A TB survivor, Mr Francis Ekong, who gave an account of his TB journey, encouraged Nigerians to go for test if they were coughing continuously.
Ekong said “the test is free, the treatment is free, the food is free. Everything about tuberculosis is free. All you need to do is to submit yourself.”
He noted that the issue of discrimination of TB patients was real but after the treatment, one would be reabsorbed into the society.
He commended government and members of the TB programme for choosing Lugbe community for the outreach.
The Chief of Lugbe, Mr Usman Nga Kupi, said he would continue to enlighten the people about TB signs and symptoms and encourage them to go for screening.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)reports that the NTBLCP, with support from the USAID-funded project -Breakthrough ACTION Nigeria (BA-N) developed a Unified, National TB Social and Behaviour Change (SBC) Campaign aimed at improving TB awareness and demand creation for sustained TB case findings in Nigeria.
The campaign was developed in collaboration with key TB stakeholders within the country based on lessons learnt from the formative research, using Human-Centred Design (HCD) methodology.
The effort was to ensure coordination and buy-in by all partners within the TB Advocacy, Communication and Social Mobilisation (ACSM) response.
It will also help to ensure consistency and mutually reinforce messages aimed at creating the needed impact in communities, taking into consideration peculiar needs and context of each region.