Concerned about its rising tuberculosis burden, Nigeria has commenced an active house-to-house search for new cases in the country.
The search, which has taken off in 22 states, aims to identify new cases and immediately place them on treatment.
Officials said over 50, 000 cases have so far been identified in the first stage of the search which took place between January and June of this year.
Stakeholders met at a Global Fund Tuberculosis Grant Review Meeting in Abuja, on Monday to review strategies and adopt sharpen the house to house strategy.
Programme Coordinator in search of TB at the Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH), Dr. Queen Ladipo, told The Guardian that through the approach, the stakeholders were also working towards creating greater awareness towards ending TB in Nigeria.
The World Health Organization (WHO) considers TB as a major public health problem in Nigeria, with the country ranking fifth among the 22 high TB burden countries which collectively bear 80 per cent of the global burden of TB. The TB burden in Nigeria is said to be further compounded by the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic and the emergence of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB).
Ladipo noted: “We had the first ever TB prevalence survey in Nigeria which showed us that the incidence in Nigeria is times three what the World health Organization (WHO) used to be. One of the national strategies from the National TB Control Programme is to redouble efforts to find these cases.
“ARFH supports the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control in the fight against TB in the country. As part of that, we have decided to find the TB cases actively as opposed to the passive approach to finding TB cases. We used to wait for people with cough related cases to come to the clinics. Now we have decided to go to the communities to find them in their houses.”
She noted that community based organizations had been trained in the in the 22 focal states.
“We have also trained community TB workers in those states to go from house to house to ask people questions based on our checklist, especially if they are coughing and what they find in those that are coughing. We call these presumptive TB cases. Their sputum samples are collected and screened. Anyone found positive is immediately placed on treatment. With support from the Global Fund, the drug is free. So, we have free drugs to treat any identified TB case in this country.”
On the results recorded so far, she stressed: “The intensive case finding started around February-March. There are 22 states among which are Akwa Ibom, Benue, Anambra, Cross Rivers, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Enugu, Kaduna, Kano and Lagos.”
She said the project was establishing new centres where people could access treatment.
Emeka Anuforo, Abuja