The Breakthrough Action Nigeria (BA-N) in Collaboration with the State Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme(STBLCP) has tested several people on tuberculosis in Etinan, Eket, Uruan and Oron local government areas during the just concluded free National Tuberculosis Testing Week in Akwa Ibom.
At Etinan centre in Ikot Akpan Ntembom, persons including the young and the elderly were tested of TB.
In the testing, urine was collected into a small bottle for adults, while in children, their faces was obtained, also using a small container.
Apart from the TB, people were tested for malaria and Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) vaccine given, while children with malnutrition, stunted growth or with swollen belly were given treatment as well.
A motorised sensitization was carried out by BA-N team to inform people of the exercise
well as create awareness on TB.
The deputy village head of Ikot Akpan Ntembom, ObongEkerete Jumbo appreciated the state government and the BA-N for selecting the community as one of the centre for the free TB testing programme.
He assured that they would continue to provide a conduciveenvironment for more health services, just as he made a case for the rebuilding of a health centre demolished in the course of road construction.
Mary Adams, community health extension officer attached to the facility said the turn-up for the exercise was impressive, but requested for good infrastructure and equipment to maximize service delivery to the community.
Deputy project director, National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme, Breakthrough Action Nigeria,Dr BolatitoAiyenigba said that the exercise was designed to address the low case finding for both adult and children due to low awareness of the disease.
According to him, every undiagnosed and untreated TB could infect 15 people to within a year, adding that the National multi-media “Check Am O” Campaign and the Advocacy Communication and Social Mobilization(ACSM) guideline development was aimed at putting people who are vulnerable to develop active TB preventive measures to prevent transmission of TB in communities.
The director of public health services, Ministry of Health, Dr Etop Antia at the orientation for laboratory scientists and TB focal persons in Uyo had implored the participants to explore and adopt a strategy for case finding to get more persons for testing, treatment and follow up for total cure of the disease.
He directed that the testing be extended to schools and churches as TB was prevalent among children, while calling on communities to avail themselves of the opportunity to get freetesting and treatment on TB.
Mr Bassey Nsa, state coordinator, Breakthrough Action Nigeria (BA-N), pointed out that to tackle the problem of low testing and treatment in TB behavior change concept should be adopted to create awareness in communities for increased case finding.
The programme manager, STBLCP, Dr Bassey Akpan who revealed this at the Orientation State Tuberculosis and Leprosy Focal Persons, and Laboratory Scientists to mark the National Free TB Testing Week ,said the although the target had not been made, a significant effort was recorded and to improve upon that towards the eradication of TB in the state.
He explained that the meeting sought to re-orientate and familiarize the TBLC focal persons on efficient, standard and acceptable testing.
Akpan hinted that the one week testing exercise takes place at selected health facilities in communities where there were high concentration of TB cases.
The free testing exercise, according to him, takes place inUruan, Etinan, Oron, and Eket Local Government areas.
He added that 14 Genexpert machines were available in 10 general hospitals of the state for TB testing.
Giving the concept of the National TB Testing Week, MrsPasculine Edim, deputy state director, BA-N said the programme was designed to change the narrative of TB burden in Nigeria.
The quality assurance officer, STBLCP, Mr Bernedict Etuk who spoke on the “Role of Laboratory Personnel in TB Control in Nigeria,” corroborated that that laboratory scientists have vital role to play in the campaign against TB in the state.
In getting an accurate result, he stressed that there was the need to improve on universal testing to ascertain the status of person, whether positive or negative for treatment.
He emphasized that the need for proper documentation during testing as wrong or erroneous testing do not augur well in the testing and control of tuberculosis.
Dr Temi Dayo of KNCV TB Foundation Nigeria, stated that strengthening the capacity of service providers in TB campaign was imperative to control the spread of the disease in which every one person affected would invariably infect 15 persons within the environment in a year.
Speaking on case study, experiences and challenges in the field, the laboratory scientists complained of issues of persons refusing to avail themselves, family, give sputum or faces and take drugs as necessary.