The Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) in Nigeria reports that every year, there are at least 300,000 people with tuberculosis left unidentified. This number constitutes the missing tuberculosis cases in the country that need to be found for the disease burden to be addressed.
As part of efforts to find tuberculosis cases in the community, the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) participated in the first National Tuberculosis Testing Week, which held from August 1st to 7th, 2022. Activities organized to mark the week included community tuberculosis screening, outreach and sensitization activities in 152 local government areas in 20 states under the Institute’s Global Fund Public Private Mix (PPM) Project.
Over 36,000 adults and children were screened for tuberculosis out of which 821 were diagnosed with tuberculosis and linked up for treatment.
IHVN Program Officer, Ms Kelechi Nzeadibe said that the activities were done in partnership with PPM project sub-recipients namely; KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation Nigeria, Catholic Caritas Foundation of Nigeria (CCFN), The Leprosy Mission of Nigeria (TLMN), and Damien Foundation, Belgium (DFB).
“We carried out sensitization in churches, mosques, slums, fishing ports, market places, community town halls, house-to-house, through road shows, open rallies, community announcements amongst other strategies. As a result, adults and children turned out to be screened and give their sputum for a tuberculosis test. Engaging with the private sector such as Patent Medicine Vendors, is another strategy we adopted to take these services to more people” she said.
The numbers diagnosed represents individuals and families with tuberculosis, who may not have gone to the nearest Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) centers to be diagnosed.
“We identified some individuals who assumed that their illness was malaria, asthma or even witch-craft related but after samples were collected and tested, the results came out tuberculosis positive and they have started treatment.
For instance, in Imo state, during a community outreach in partnership with Caritas Nigeria, we discovered a family of seven at Nkwere LGA with tuberculosis. They had a 7year old child who attended our outreach/sensitization. After a test, tuberculosis was detected. Through contact tracing, the samples of all the family members were collected and all their results came out positive for tuberculosis,” Ms Nzeadibe said.
Deputy Program Manager Damien Foundation Belgium, Dr Bolaji Ahmed said that despite challenges of low turn-out of community members due to the planting season, rains and poor terrain of some communities, the national testing week activities show that “community sensitization, awareness and stakeholder engagement is important for effective program implementation.”
The Public Private Mix (PPM) project being implemented by IHVN is aimed at engaging private and public health care providers in the fight against tuberculosis using international health care standards. The project is scaling up private-provider engagement for tuberculosis in Edo, Delta, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Oyo, Ondo, Osun, Ogun, Kogi, Niger, Sokoto, Plateau, Nasarawa, Kaduna, Anambra, Enugu, Rivers, Imo, Abia and Ebonyi states.