By Lanre Oloyede
At least one-third of people estimated to have tuberculosis are either not reached for diagnosis and treatment by the current health systems or are not being reported, experts have stated.
Also, for those patients who are identified, TB is often diagnosed and treated late.
Therefore, in order to reach the unreached and to find TB patients early in the course of their ailment, the experts said it is advisable to engage Community Base Organisations, CBOs, in the local government areas to implement and find missing TB cases.
According to them, these should include the CBOs, CSOs and NGOs who are already active in community-based development activities such as HIV infections, malaria control, primary healthcare services, and others who have not yet included TB in their activities.
The stakeholders made the call at virtual Civil Society Accountability Forum 2020 TB Pre-Conference.
The meeting had its theme as: “ Integrating Community Systems Strengthening for Effective HIV, TB, Malaria and COVID-19 Response in Nigeria’’.
Speaking at the conference, Dr Chijioke Osakwe, of the National Community TB Taskforce, said the role of communities and Community Based Organisations (CBOs) could not be over emphasised especially in finding missing TB cases and treatment.
He explained that TB is a major public health problem in many parts of the world with Nigeria as one of the 30 countries in the world with the highest burden of TB, adding that eight countries account for two thirds of the total, with Nigeria being among.
Osakwe said if CBOs are better organised and present in the communities, they can actually provide direct services to communities that can be used to respond to the challenges in the community.
He advocated that a certain percentage of programme budgeting be reserved to support CSOs and CBOs as this would ensure continued operation.
Also speaking, Dr Emperor Ubochioma, Programme Management Team, NTBLCP/Global Fund, said that CSS was based on community interventions that would critically look into issues.
He harped on integrating services with other areas and entities working on malaria, HIV and even those currently working on COVID-19.
“If we want to look at health outcomes, we must look at the approach where the communities are involved in issues of designing the programmes, delivering them and also participate in monitoring and evaluating those services and activities.
“It becomes very vital that every person in the community should be engaged. It is imperative that during our planning and strategic process, all entities and all those involved at all levels should participate to ensure that things are carried out appropriately.
“Going forward, we are looking at every entity, even religious entities, we are now imputing the processes that they will have to participate. We have to build their capacity to understand TB ,’’ he said.