Health

Tuberculosis: CSO Seeks More Sensitisation, Media Partnership to Tackle Spread

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21 April 2021 10:35 AM GMT
Tuberculosis: CSO Seeks More Sensitisation, Media Partnership to Tackle Spread
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A Civil Society Group, Breakthrough Action Nigeria (BAN) has called for more awareness on the dangers of tuberculosis (TB) so as to reduce its spread. BAN, in partnership with the Federal and Imo State Ministries of Health, made the call at a one day virtual workshop for media practitioners in Owerri, on Wednesday. Speaking at […]

A Civil Society Group, Breakthrough Action Nigeria (BAN) has called for more awareness on the dangers of tuberculosis (TB) so as to reduce its spread.

BAN, in partnership with the Federal and Imo State Ministries of Health, made the call at a one day virtual workshop for media practitioners in Owerri, on Wednesday.

Speaking at the workshop, the Programme Director, Federal Ministry of Health, Mrs Tohowo Uko, said Nigeria ranked 8th among countries in the world with the highest burden of TB.

She said that Imo also ranked 8th among states in the federation with the highest volume of TB cases, adding that people of the state were yet to come to terms with the fact that the disease is curable and not caused by witchcraft.

Uko said that this belief informed the decision to partner with the media, to increase awareness on the dangers of the disease, so as to reduce its prevalence.

She said that the training would help journalists in sustaining the progress achieved during the International Day for Tuberculosis by educating the public.

The program director regretted that the fear of COVID-19 and stigmatisation had also discouraged people from getting tested for tuberculosis.

She encouraged people to get tested as soon as they noticed coughs lasting longer than two weeks, accompanied by fever and night sweats, adding that the only way to diagnose tuberculosis was through proper testing as some other illnesses might present similar symptoms.

Uko said that patients who followed the right treatment protocol often made a full recovery.

“TB is not a killer disease. The media should help demystify the disease and remove the stigma and segregation attached to it and encourage people to go for testing,” she said.

She identified the common symptoms of TB as cough, loss of weight and night sweats, saying that 150,000 Nigerians died of TB in 2019.

Contributing, Dr Charles Okafor, the Programme Manager for Tuberculosis Control, Buruli Ulcer and Leprosy, said that tuberculosis was more lethal than COVID-19.

He said that currently there were 160,000 TB cases in Nigeria, while 300,000 TB cases were yet to be detected, adding that the disease is highly infectious.

According to him, TB was a disease that affected everybody as one person could infect more than 15 persons in a year, while the drugs and tests are free.

Okafor said that the media had a strong role to play in the dissemination of information about TB and called for partnership with the media for awareness creation and sensitisation on the need to erase erroneous beliefs about the disease.

He also added that over 400, 000 new cases of tuberculosis were being recorded annually in Nigeria with some cases presenting themselves without prolonged cough.

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