Health experts are strategising on how to effectively tackle drug resistant tuberculosis in order to free Nigerians from the scourge.
The experts see the battle as that of the three tiers government as well as that of health workers who should show more commitment at eradicating drug-resistant tuberculosis.
Dr. Omosivie Maduka , Programme Manager, Drug Resistant Tuberculosis Treatment Centre, University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital(UPTH), is one of the leading expert.
He told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that health workers should always treat their drug resistant tuberculosis patients properly.
She said that communicating with tuberculosis patients was very important to reduce the rate of stigma related with the disease.
“Health workers should always be happy and ready to treat the drug resistant tuberculosis patients in any situation or challenges.’’
He explained that there were several things governments could do to reduce drug resistant tuberculosis which include providing drugs and equipment for treatment.
“Most times our global funds and other partners donate drugs and equipment we use; governments should always be in charge not the global funds.
“The National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme and the Federal Ministry of Health should keep informing governments that drug resistant tuberculosis is a terrifying disease.
“Drug resistant tuberculosis is a disease that takes between 20 months and 22 months of treatment which means prevention is better than cure.
“Provision of more tuberculosis treatment centres and tuberculosis programmes will help to manage and prevent drug resistant tuberculosis,” she said.
Maduka said that the UPTH’s drug resistant tuberculosis treatment centre had been able to manage between 30 patients and 44 patients yearly since 2013.
“The death rate has reduced while the management of tuberculosis patients has improved through the help of the Institute of Human Virology and other partners,’’ she said.
Dr Vivian Ibeziako, Programme Manager of Drug Resistant Tuberculosis, Institute of Human Virology, Nigeria also stressed the need for more commitment of governments to reduce the scourge.
She explained that their main supports was from global funds and other partners in terms of drugs.
She said that in 2016, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that estimated Multi drug resistant cases among notified pulmonary tuberculosis cases were 5,200.
“Apart from the 22 active tuberculosis treatment centres, we also have out patients departments centres (OPD) scattered around the country for the treatment of patients in communities.
“We have 388 gene expert machines in the country at the moment but the problem is that most of the machines are not functioning optimally.
“This is the reason why we have not been able to diagnose a lot of drug-resistant tuberculosis cases in the country,” Ibeziako said.
She also said that there were two groups of patients – some initiated into treatment in the community; others are patients initiated into the treatment centres and discharged into the communities.
Dr. Grace Nsa, called on governments to support and invest in and provide more infrastructure for the eradication of tuberculosis.
Nsa, who is the Drug Resistant Tuberculosis Focal Clinician at Dr Lawrence Henshaw Memorial Hospital, Calabar, said that the centre had several success stories through the support of IHIV and other partners.
She said that it was wrong to attribute it to spiritual attack.
“Some patients attribute the disease to spiritual attack but we always enlighten them by counselling them more on tuberculosis,” she said.
Nsa urged paediatricians to always refer any child who had suspicious case of tuberculosis to any of the tuberculosis treatment centres in the country.
“We are always having missing and hidden cases among the children and most tuberculosis is always from adults to children because children’s immunities are lower compared to adults,” she said.(NAN)