By Donald Ojebo
As part of measures to reduce the high rate of Tuberculosis (TB) infection and deaths in the State, members of the fourth estate of the realm has been identified as critical stakeholders to help raise awareness on the early identification/diagnoses of the disease and its treatment.
Dr. Alexander Akpodiete, Programme Manager, Delta State Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Buruli Ulcer Control Programme (STBLCP) made this known today during a one-day Tuberculosis Training for Media Health Reporters in the State held at the Conference Hall, State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Asaba.
He revealed that TB is the number one killer disease as it kills more compared to COVID-19, Malaria, HIV/AIDS or any other killer disease known in Nigeria and added that according to available health data for the State in 2019 alone, over 50,000 persons have died of TB infection.
“The problem of TB is very huge because the rate of infection has been very high while efforts at identifying the disease in the State have been very poor. He said that the disease is spreading like wildfire because of the ability of a carrier of the disease who is yet to commence TB treatment regime has the capacity to infect 15 persons within a year” he said.
“The major stakeholders who can help check this ugly tide is the Journalist who as shapers of opinion can help raise the awareness by sensitizing citizens on the danger of the disease and how to reduce its spread and save lives” he added.
He stated that the most common symptom of TB is persistent cough which has lasted for more than two weeks including other symptoms such as loss of appetite, weight loss, chest pain coughing out blood night sweating among others.
Dr. Akpodiete said that the good news is that TB is curable with the caveat that early detection and commencement of treatment be early enough and urged that with the cost of testing and medications for the disease being free even in private hospitals where only payment for card is made, people should take advantage of these and save themselves and loved ones from the scourge of the disease.
He said currently the State can boost of 10 Gene Xpert machines used for the testing of the disease with four more machines in the process of being added to the number.
The TB Programme Manager added that Directly Observed Treatment Short Course (DOTS) Clinics which is a diagnostic and therapeutic unit that caters for patients diagnosed with or suspected to have TB are available in all Government/General hospitals in the State.
The participants received lectures through Zoom application where resource persons such as Mrs. Itohowo Uko, Director, Advocacy and Social Mobilization Programme and other officers from the National Office took turns to lecture the participants.
Highlight of the training was the interactive session where questions were asked by the participants and answers given by the resource persons and the pledge by the media personnel to support the TB Control Programme increase sensitization efforts through their medium.