The National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP) says only 25 per cent of Nigerians have knowledge about tuberculosis, decrying the low level of awareness about the disease in the country.
Mrs Itohowo Uko, NTBLCP Head of Communication and Social Mobilisation, said this during an advocacy visit to the Managing Director of NAN, Mr Bayo Onanuga, on Tuesday in Abuja.
According to her, it is imperative to seek for the agency’s collaboration in order to sensitise the public to the prevention, causes and symptoms of tuberculosis.
“Tuberculosis knowledge in Nigeria is low; it is 25 per cent of the populace that have knowledge about tuberculosis.
“Tuberculosis which is an airborne disease is treatable and curable.
“As part of our activities to mark this year’s Tuberculosis Day, we have decided to collaborate with the media to sensitise the public because of its power to reach people.
“We want people to know what the disease is all about thereby erasing the wrong and misinformed knowledge about the disease,” she said.
According to her, out of 100 people we were to find and place on treatment in 2018, we were able to find 24 people.
The official stressed that “we (FG) want to inform people through this collaboration that the diagnosis and treatment for tuberculosis is free”.
Uko also said another factor that contributed to few people coming out for the treatment is stigma and the media could help educate citizens, especially the relations of the affected persons, to bring them for treatment.
Dr Urhioke Ochuko, Senior Medical Officer, Department of Public Health, Federal Ministry of Health, who currently oversees Childhood Tuberculosis Unit, said that the visit was aimed at further educating Nigerians on the increase in the number of children suffering from tuberculosis.
“In 2018, we were able to identify just 15 per cent of children, from birth to 14 years, who had tuberculosis.
“This does not make me feel fulfilled much in regard to my calling.
“It is more difficult to diagnose the disease in children because they often do not produce sputum to conduct the test.
“Hence our visit to use the media to educate and dispel myths about tuberculosis,” he said.
Responding, Onanuga promised to support the programme towards raising awareness on the challenges of the disease and the necessary measures to be taken to reduce its prevalence in the society.
Represented by the Editor-In-Chief, Alhaji Idris Abdulrahman, the managing director commended their initiative to seek collaboration with the agency for the purpose of awareness creation.
“I am glad that you are here today (Tuesday), you have done the right thing by coming to NAN.
“We have numerous subscribers as well as various news platforms which will help in sensitising the public and with our wide reach in all parts of the country; we can assure you that your voice will be heard.
“We are ready to partner with you especially for 2019 World Tuberculosis Day,” he said.
He added that the agency created a special desk to promote health, gender and population issues.