By Luminous Jannamike
ABUJA – As part of activities to commemorate this year’s World Tuberculosis Day, the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation, and the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP), on Monday, collaborated to offer free tuberculosis screening and treatment for residents of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
The programme, which also featured a community sensitisation programme on early detection and treatment of the ailment, had about 1,000 residents benefiting from the medical outreach.
In a chat with journalists at the Utako Motor Park, where the outreach took place, the National Professional Officer in charge of Tuberculosis (TB) at the WHO, Dr Ayodele Awe, decried the low-level of awareness, among Nigerians, on the need to go for tuberculosis screening especially when they suffer prolonged cough.
He said: “In Nigeria, it is reported that over 400,000 persons are at risk of contracting tuberculosis with an estimated 50,000 deaths but less than 100,000 persons present themselves for TB screening annually.
“So, this community outreach programmes using the Wellness on Wheels (WoW) truck, which has the capacity to screen patients for tuberculosis and produce test results within 110 minutes, will help in the early detection of the disease so that necessary treatment can be commenced in order to ensure the ailment does not spread further.”
Vanguard reports that the WoW truck deployed for the free medical outreach is a state-of the-art mobile diagnostic vehicle for tuberculosis screening which also contains an X-ray machine and a geneXpert machine. It was funded by USAID through KNCV’s Challenge TB program.
Also speaking, the FCT Coordinator of NTBCLP, Dr. Josephine Okechukwu, said that some of the symptoms of tuberculosis include; prolonged cough that lasts for more than two weeks, loss of appetite, night sweating, weight loss, chest pain and difficulty in breathing.
Others, according to her, include enlargement of lymph nodes and failure to thrive and grow among children.
Dr Okechukwu further explained that tuberculosis is curable. She, however, maintained that early diagnosis and treatment was key to stopping the spread of the disease.
“Tuberculosis is one of the highly infectious diseases in Nigeria. But it is curable, treatable, and preventable. Treatment for TB is free across all level of healthcare institutions in the country. So, residents should come forward for screening and also avail themselves of the free treatment on offer,” she said.