From Msughshima Andrew, Makurdi
Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by the Bacillus Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Experts say it typically affects the lungs (pulmonary TB), but can also affect other sites (extra pulmonary TB).
TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with pulmonary TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air. Medical experts caution that a person only needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected.
When a person develops active TB disease, the symptoms (such as cough, fever, night sweats, or weight loss) may be mild for many months.
Tuberculosis has however, remained a serious public health threat to men, women and children of Nigeria as the country ranks sixth among the 30 countries in the world with the highest number of people with TB disease while Benue was one of the high prevalence states with TB in Nigeria.
Worried by this trend, Action Health Incorporated, a Non Governmental Organization (NGO) has trained 60 health workers and sensitized over 1000 indigenes of Benue on early detections, reporting and timely referrals of suspected TB cases to designated health centres.
Programme Officer of the NGO, Miss Stella Soneye who spoke to journalists after the training, in Makurdi, said the NGO worked in collaboration with the Benue Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme with support from Agbami Partners (NNPC, Chevron, Famfa Oil Limited, BR Petrobras and Statoil)
Soneye said the training was aimed at implementing a 3-month Tuberculosis Awareness Campaign across 26 communities in three high TB burden LGAs; Otukpo, Gboko and Makurdi.
According to her, the Campaign was in line with the National Strategic Plan of Action Goal of providing Nigerians with Universal Access to High-quality, patient-centered prevention, diagnosis and treatment services for TB, TB/HIV and Drug Resistant TB by 2020.
The training was also to intensify detection and reporting of TB cases beyond existing health facilities to communities and individual households.
”Timely referrals of suspected TB cases to Directly Observed Treatment Short-Course (DOTS) Centres and chest clinics in the three LGAs, which will in turn increase the uptake of Free TB services in these LGAs.
“The health workers and community vanguards were trained on epidemiology, transmission and identification of symptoms of TB.
”The trained health workers and community vanguards will continue to conduct one-on-one outreach in their respective communities,”she said.
The programme manager said they were also trained in community engagement, community-based active TB Search and linking TB Patients to treatment amongst others.
Some of the trainees who spoke to 247Ureports thanked the NGO for empowering them with increased knowledge and skills to effectively create awareness on TB.
They promised to contribute their part to rid the state of tuberculosis by ensuring the detection of presumptive cases and efficiently referring the patients to designated DOTs centres and Chest clinics for efficient management.
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