… educates residents on TB infection
… embarks on free testing / counseling

The Edo State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (EDSPHCDA) in partnership with the United Nations (UN), Migration (IOM), Edo State Ministry of Health and the Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria, Edo branch (APHPN) joined efforts to create prompt awareness on the prevailing epidemic, tuberculosis (TB), in commemoration of the World Tuberculosis Day, celebrated globally on March 24.

During a press briefing on Monday at the head office of Edo State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, the Executive Secretary, Dr. Omosigho Izedonmwen addressed the press on how Edo State Government and its stakeholders are committing towards eradicating this deadly disease.

“As the executive secretary of the Edo State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (EDSPHCDA), I am proud to share with you the tireless efforts of our state government and our invaluable partners in the fight against TB,” Dr Izedonmwen affirmed.

Highlighting the current state of tuberculosis (TB) in Edo, the Executive Secretary stated that the state government has began aligning various strategies to achieve global goals alongside implementing the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General’s flagship initiative for 2023-2027.

“We support the rollout of WHO recommended TB preventive treatment options, shorter treatment regimens, rapid diagnostic, and innovations. These investments save lives and improve health outcomes.

“TB is a priority. By integrating TB screening with preventive treatment, we create efficiencies and protect our people from falling ill.

“In Edo state, we fight against Tuberculosis using collective efforts, and I commend the dedication of our health professionals, partners and citizens so far.

“We call for strengthened multi-sectoral engagement. Together, we will address the underlying causes and create a safe environment for all,” he added.

To show the commitment towards eradicating tuberculosis, EDSPHCDA and other health development partners, took to the open space at Uselu Market, in Benin City, the Edo State capital, for an outreach on tuberculosis to reduce stigma, raise awareness and enlighten members of the public such that efforts were made towards the reduction of the epidemic.

The event was attended by many beneficiaries and other dignitaries such as Chairman of Egor LGA, Mrs. Eghe Ogbemudia, and other LGA stakeholders, educational representatives, community heads/leaders, religious leaders, civil societies organizations with various healthcare organizations and stakeholders.

Chuks Obianke Veronica, TB Desk officer, EDSPHCDA, while speaking to the Nigerian Observer correspondent, noted that there is still a knowledge gap among the people on tuberculosis awareness. She further urged residents to seek medical attention and go for regular check ups.

“A lot of people are not still aware of TB. Some might dismiss symptoms as normal cough but we are creating the awareness on why people should involve in medical checkups.

“Tuberculosis affects all ages. It is airborne, so anyone can contact it. Tests and treatments are free, so we want to tell people that we can end T.B. in collaborative effort,” She said.

Also, the Tuberculosis and Leprosy Supervisor, Oredo, Mrs. Bosede Ayeni said that members of the public should be aware that tuberculosis can be treated and that preventive measures can be carefully observed.

“TB can be managed. When one is down with TB, we do what is called pre treatment counseling where we let people know that TB is not a death sentence, it is curable,” Mrs. Ayeni noted.

She further disclosed that close contacts with infected patients are also tested and if infected, they can be placed on medications.

Speaking, Quality Management System and Compliant Consultant (QMS) EDSPHCDA, stressed that delay in the treatment can be very dangerous. She urged residents and stakeholders to combine efforts to put a full stop to the widespread of the disease.

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According to her, “Tuberculosis is not a joke. We are free to raise a public awareness on the devastating effect of TB, it’s health, social and economic consequences, and how we can work together to end it.

“No one person can do it in isolation, it requires collaborative efforts and also efforts from important stakeholders as well.”

Additionally, the Chairman, Association of Public Health Physicians Of Nigeria, Edo State Branch (APHPN), Epidemologist and Public Health Consultant, Dr. Obi Andrew, gave exclusive information concerning the debilitating nature of the disease.

“It is important to note that tuberculosis is a very public health problem because it is highly infectious.

“Nigeria as it stands now is the sixth largest country with TB incidence and ranks first in Africa,” he mentioned.

Dr. Obi also explained that despite the deadly nature of the disease, it can be treated and members of he public should make it an obligation towards its total eradication so that lives can be saved.

The Chairman of APHPN also explained that the program which aimed at creating awareness, would immensely contribute towards controlling this epidemic and also encouraged all stakeholders, government, medical practitioners and concerned citizens to unite in combating TB in Nigeria.

“We are reaching out to members of the community health professionals and the government to support the movement towards eradicating tuberculosis from our society,” he maintained.

During the event, the various speakers made it clear to the audience that the disease is curable and that treatments and tests are free in general hospitals and healthcare centres. They also encouraged people to spread the awareness in their social circle and wherever they find themselves.

Also, screening exercises were made available to the participants of the events, details were collected and spit samples were also collected which would be taken to the laboratory where it would be tested and results communicated to the patients.

Leading by example, the Chairman of the Egor LGA, Mrs. Eghe Ogbemudia, was the first to take the screening exercise after which others followed, setting a remarkable example that all stakeholders should emulate.

One of the beneficiaries of the event, Mr. Henry Isoken, expressed his gratitude for being a part of the program, noting that he learnt a lot.

“Actually, I have been able to grab so much from this event. I realized that the disease can be managed and that the symptoms should not be ignored.

“Well, I’m sure many people just like me have also learnt the preventive measures which would help us not get infected with this disease,” Isoken said.

Another participant at the event, Madam Osas noted that she had lost a friend to the disease, saying that would not have happened if she had gotten this great information that was communicated at the event.

“I was inside my shop selling when I heard the voice and I decided to come out. When I noticed that it was tuberculosis, I realized that it was the same symptoms that my friend had before passing on last year.

“She was taken to the village to receive traditional care instead of taking medications. Well, she would have been able to recover if she was aware of this solutions that I heard of today.

“I’ve learnt that we should voice out and make it a habit to engage in constant medical checkups when we notice anything wrong with our body,” Madam Osas said.