A health-based non-governmental organisation, AIDS Prevention Initiative in Nigeria (APIN) has mounted an aggressive campaign to rid Plateau State of Tuberculosis. The campaign involves treatment and public sensitisation.
The Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), a partner of the NGO, said it has over 14,000 tuberculosis (TB) patients in its care, adding that its personnel are sensitising the people on the disease with a view to halting its spread in the state.
The head of TB unit of APIN, Dr. Maxwell Akanbi who spoke with newsmen in Jos shortly after embarking on an enlightenment rally in Jos North Local Government area of the State to mark the World Tuberculosis Day, said TB is spreading faster than people think and that many are unaware of the disease.
Akanbi said not many people know about the ailment, which has caused several deaths around the globe, adding that enlightenment is crucial in fighting it.
He maintained that TB worsens the condition of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA), most of who are TB carriers. He urged communities across the state to take advantage of public institutions to know their status as well as get the free investigation and treatment of TB and other related diseases which APIN is promoting.
The medical expert disclosed that APIN is a United States of America-assisted NGO, which works in concert with the Harvard School of Public Health. He added that APIN has been operating in JUTH since 2003 and that more TB patients are being treated.
He stated that deliberate efforts are being made to significantly reduce the disease by 2015.
APIN, he added, started the campaign rally with Jos North council area because of its population and its position as the centre of business activities in the state even as he stressed that the rally would also be replicated in other local government areas.
Akanbi appealed to residents to visit the TB centre if they cough persistently for two weeks and also endeavour to know their HIV status to ensure prompt treatment.
But the issue of drug resistance of the disease is of concern to health personnel in the state. The Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria (APHPN) spoke about this resistance in TB sufferers especially in Plateau North Senatorial zone, adding that there is a sharp decline in the detection of the disease in the zone.
The group blamed this development on the violent crises that have rocked the area recently as well as residents’ fear of being attacked while trying to access free care in public health centres.
Speaking at a seminar to mark the World TB Day, Dr. Sam Ogiri, a World Health Organisation (WHO) personnel regretted that the WHO target of eliminating TB by 2050 may be a mirage if serious efforts are not made to sensitise the communities on the dangers associated with the disease.
Ogiri who was represented by the state chairman of APHPN, Dr. Joseph Daboer, added that it is alarming that in the last 40 years, very insignificant efforts have been made in finding a suitable vaccine for the treatment of TB, stating that the last vaccines discovered were between 1944 and 1968.
Also in a paper, Dr. Samson Isa of the Department of Medicine, University of Jos, said the fight against TB is gaining ground, but the only constraints are that its process is slow.
Dr. Isa disclosed that new drugs have undergone clinical observation and when eventually licensed for treatment, the period required to treat TB patients would be reduced from between 24 months to only four months.
Those who attended the seminar were students of Community Health, doctors and other stakeholders in the health sector.
Written by Marie Therese Peter - The Nation NewsExtra Webpost