By Lanre Oloyede
In order to eradicate the scourge of Tuberculosis in Nigeria, experts have advocated the need for greater emphasis on reaching populations that are most marginalized, since they bear the brunt of stigma, and human rights violations which includes loss of job or denial of care.
Speaking at a two day DR-TB Treatment Literacy Training and Launch of Storyboard on Former DR-TB Patients in Abuja, TB Survivor Advocate & TB People Global, Funke Dosumu, noted that TB should be viewed as a human rights and social justice issue, adding that there was need to put communities at the center of the response.
The event, which was organised by the National TB & Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP) in collaboration with the Stop TB Partnership Nigeria and the Treatment Action Group (TAG) New York, also had in attendance stakeholders in tuberculosis intervention.
Dosunmu maintained that the TB People are network of people with experience of TB in order to shift the paradigm from controlling TB to ending TB.
According to her “TB People, was launched at the Regional Workshop on TB Community Mobilization in Bratislava, which the Partnership organized in collaboration with RESULTS UK and TB Europe Coalition and with the support of USAID and the Global Fund.”
In her remark, the Director/Head, ACSM, National TB and Leprosy Control Programme NTBLCP, Mrs. Itohowo Uko said there was need for individuals to learn how to protect their loved ones from TB infection and seek help when they experience signs and symptoms.
Mrs. Itohowo Uko who said TB does not take away someone’s skills, urged organisations not to discriminate against TB survivors but support a staff that tests positive to TB.
“TB is not a death sentence, the storyboard is as an advocacy tool to the legislative arm of government for a law that will criminalize stigmatization of TB survivors.”
“The Storyboard can also serve as an advocacy tool to government at the Federal, State and Local levels on the need to ensure expansion and accessibility of TB DOT centres throughout the country.”
In an interview with newsmen, the Executive Secretary, Stop TB Partnership, Mayowa Joel said the program was organised to improve advocacy capacity of CSOs and DR-TB affected communities
“To improve knowledge and advocacy capacity of trainers representing CSOs and DR-TB affected communities at the grassroot levels regarding DR-TB diagnosis and treatment. “
“The training aims to provide capacity strengthening and technical assistance to DR-TB affected communities and support civil society organizations through the provision of diagnosis and treatment literacy training, support communities to articulate and frame local constraints and barriers to TB care and cure.”
On his part, Senior Medical Officer , National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control, Dr Victor Babawale observed that 4.3% of the new and 15% of the previously treated TB cases have MDR/RR-TB with approximately 21,000 cases of DR-TB annually according to the Global TB report. (WHO global TB report 2020).
“This persistent gap has made the reduction in the prevalence of DR-TB a herculean task resulting further transmission of the resistant strains amongst the population.”
According to Dr.Babawale , ” It has been confirmed from studies conducted that one TB case has the capacity to generate by transmission 10 – 15 new cases within one year if left untreated. This creates an emergency which must be addressed to prevent further spread of the disease.”
He said the World Health Organization recently approved the all oral MDR-TB treatment regimen which was a major change in the recommendation for the treatment of MDR-TB globally.
“The recommendation prioritized newer medications and oral regimen over the use of injectables. This is to engender adherence to treatment by DR-TB patients and to make treatment care and support easy for the health care workers to administer. “
“This all-oral treatment regimen has been known to have a higher cure rate for DR-TB patients and as such will increase the quality of care.” he added.