Breakthrough Action Nigeria, a non-governmental organisationinvolved in social behavioural change and supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has stressed the need for commitments towards Tuberculosis (TB) prevention and treatment in the state.
Speaking in an interview as part of activities to mark this year’s World TB Day, Mr Bassey Nsa, the state coordinator of BA-N in Akwa Ibom, said the government should improve its funding for TB programmes, while the private sector should also be involved,including family heads, community and religious leaders.
The coordinator noted that with strengthening of the Akwa Ibom State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (AKSPHCDA) by the state government, coordination and collaboration of programmes by implementing partners and donor agencies had been made easier, adding that it has resulted in effective healthcare delivery service.
“We should rise and seize the opportunity and the good environment to improve our health condition, to make sure we kick out TB in the state. We have available implementing partners, and improving sector participation involving all stakeholders,” he stated.
Nsa however, regretted that the knowledge about TB, its symptoms and transmission mode is low and blamed it on behavioural issues as well as on myths and misconceptions.
On stigmatization of persons suffering TB, the coordinator said this was a huge barrier as people tend to avoid them, a situation that entails enlightenment and advocacy.
“Our work sponsored by USAID project is basically on Social Behaviour Change Communication (SBCC) to address behavioural issues to improve the knowledge of TB and others in the area of its transmission, symptom and treatment.”
According to him, there was low knowledge of availability of TB services and treatment which BA-N in collaboration with the media community in Akwa Ibom was leverage on available services to improve the knowledge on TB transmission, symptoms and prevention using the concept of SBCC.
“We need to work together to solve the TB problem in the society, that is why advocacy, and social behavioural change approach is used to reach individuals in the community and refer them to health facilities. It also helps the government to improve funding for TB as well as advocacy to the private sector so that they can see the need to use their Corporate Social Responsibility(CSR) to invest in TB services,’’ he said.
Nsa lauded traditional rulers for giving support by way of information for TB patients to access services, patent medicine dealers for helping to refer cases to the health facilities and the media for giving unprecedented publicity in the treatment of TB.
He expressed the hope that despite the enormous health challenges the country was facing including having to deal with TB, it was possible to kick TB out of the society since the services were free.
Nsa with the theme for this year’s World TB Day, “Invest in TB. Save lives,” advised the public to visit health facilities for free testing and treatment against TB for healthy living.