By Elijah Ugani: Health Correspondent
The United States Agency for International Development Health Finance and Governance (USAID HFG) has blamed the slow fight against Tuberculosis in Cross River State on the state government.
The state coordinator of HFG, Dr. Ibiam Azu, made this known Saturday in Calabar, the Cross River capital at an event to mark the 2018 World Tuberculosis Day where he emphasized the need for the state government “to live up to its commitment.”
Dr. Azu noted that partners have done their best in the fight against the disease but the state has failed “in providing its counterpart fund to fight this disease to a logical conclusion,” as the paucity of funds has “hindered advocacy at local and community levels.”
But, the Cross River State Government said it is poised to end tuberculosis and announced the budgeting of NGN300 million (about USD1 million) to combat the disease.
The Commissioner of Health, Dr. Inyang Asibong, said that: “The government of Cross River State is poised to end tuberculosis in the state and there is a budget of three hundred million naira in the 2018 budget for this purpose.”
Asibong who was represented by the Director of Public Services in the Ministry, Dr. Iwara Iwara continued: “The fight against tuberculosis has seen to the set up of Directly Observed Treatment Short course (DOTS) tuberculosis centers across the general hospitals and most Primary Health Care facilities in the 196 wards in the state bringing the treatment closer to the rural dwellers who are vulnerable at no cost.”
He also stressed that the 2018 theme: “Wanted: Leaders for a Tuberculosis Free Society” is a call to action for everyone to join the advocacy for a tuberculosis free world.
“TB kills more than HIV/AIDs, but sometimes, people don’t pay attention to it,” he said.
Tuberculosis was discovered by a German doctor which paved way for the diagnosis and treatment for the disease which is caused by a bacteria.
And, the Cross River State program officer of the Konihnjke Nedelanse Central Veriniging (DUTCH), USAID funded/KNCV challenge tuberculosis project, Dr. Cynthia Onwuteaka stated that her organization has been in the forefront of the fight against the disease as they currently operate in nine out of the 18 local government areas in the state.
She said they have deployed the Genexpert machine; a technology that allows them analyse samples within two hours instead of the normal two days.
Also they have been supporting staff who run the machines, patients on treatment even on drug resistance tuberculosis as well as providing financial support to those who don’t want to take the drugs.
In 1983, the World Health Organization set aside March 24 every year to raise awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of tuberculosis with a view to ending the global epidemic.
And, various organisations embarked on an advocacy walk from the Lawrence Henshaw memorial hospital which was formerly known as the Infectious Diseases Hospital through, Edgerley street to the ministry of Health at Diamond via Target street, Goldie street, Etim Edem park and Calabar road with strategic stops to address the public.
The state control officer of the tuberculosis program, Dr. Jonah Basset in his remarks disclosed that Nigeria is the 4th in the world and 1st in Africa among the 30 countries with the highest burden of tuberculosis.
“Nigeria currently ranks 4th in the world and 1st in Africa among the countries with the highest burden of TB, TB/HIV and multi drug resistance TB,” said Dr. Bassey who also maintained that statistics from the WHO have shown that despite progress made, tuberculosis continues to be a top killer disease world wide, claiming 4500 lives daily.
According to him, “the emergence of a multi drug resistance (MDR-TB) is posing a major health security threat and could risk gains made in the fight against tuberculosis.”
Also, the Director General of the State’s Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Betta Edu reiterated government’s commitment to ending tuberculosis and called for all hands to be on deck to achieve the goal.
Some signs and symptoms of tuberculosis include: cough that lasts for two weeks or more, coughing out blood, shortness of breath, night sweat, weight lost, chest pain and excessive tiredness.
And, partners said such observed cases should be reported to the nearest health center or call the number: 08002255282.
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