By Dickson Omobola
On the occasion of this year\s World Tuberculosis Day of March 24, the Lagos State Ministry of Health has vowed to eradicate the disease through partnering with relevant health organisations to raise awareness, increase testing, upgrade its facilities and ensure continuous provision of free treatment.
Noting that the state has a burden of about 54,000 Lagosians who are suffering from active tuberculosis, the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi, said that the state would strive to ensure that transmission of the disease is limited.
Speaking on the theme “Yes! We Can End Tuberculosis (TB),” Abayomi, described tuberculosis as a disease caused by bacteria that can stay in the body for a long time undetected.
His words: “TB is characterised by coughing, weakness, loss of appetite and sometimes coughing out blood. If you do know somebody that is coughing, has lost appetite, please encourage them to come for testing because it is quite possible that they have tuberculosis. Our statistics show that we have a tuberculosis burden of about 54,000 in Lagos.
“So, there are about 54,000 Lagosians walking around with active TB. Our job as the Ministry of Health and our partners is to find that 54,000 and put them on treatment so that we can remove the possibility of those active patients infecting 50 others.
“So, if you have 54,000 and you don’t treat them, by next year, you will have 54,000 times 15 and that number will continue to rise exponentially until it becomes a threat to our economy and that is why tuberculosis is considered to be one of the biosecurity threats.
“We have been working very hard in Lagos through the public sector and our private sector partners. We have been able to achieve a 34 percent detection rate across the 54,000 detection cases that we have.”
On his part, the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr Olusegun Ogboye, said: “We have deployed three mobile x-ray vans to increase active testing in the state, thereby increasing case finding, diagnosis and access to free treatment of diagnosed cases.
“These services are accessible to everyone. TB is preventable and curable, it could affect anybody regardless of his or her status, religion, ethnicity or position. The late Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu are examples who both struggled with TB.
“Our theme is conveying a message to us that there is an urgent need to invest resources and our own personal energy to end TB. The theme is sounding the alarm that the inadequate levels of funding for the TB response year after year, cannot continue.
Calling on the public to go for TB screening, Ogboye said without adequate financial resources and awareness creation about testing and treatment, the fight against TB cannot be won.
“Invest your resources by volunteering or donating at events that are held to spread awareness and raise funds for TB control,” he counselled.
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