Effective community engagement has been identified as key to successful detection and treatment of Tuberculosis (TB) cases which is on the rise in Nigeria.
Experts in TB management, thus suggested the integration of Community Systems Strengthening (CSS) for effective and improved response to increasing TB cases in Nigeria.
This was part of suggestions made at the Civil Society Accountability Forum virtual meting that was organised in collaboration with ‘Stop TB Partnership Nigeria’, tagged “Integrating Community Systems Strengthening (CSS) for effective HIV, TB, malaria and COVID-19 response in Nigeria.
Chairperson, Stop TB Partnership Nigeria, Ayodele Awe, in his remarks, highlighted the importance of communities’ engagement in the operational level for TB control in the country.
He expressed concern that about 75 percent of undetected TB cases are in communities across the country, stressing that additional efforts are required to detect the cases and bring them for treatment.
He reiterated the need for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to strengthen existing advocacy structures in rural communities for effective intervention in diseases control.
He was unhappy that some CSOs that work at the rural community level are not doing enough in terms of TB detection, charging them to redouble their effort.
‘‘Integrating community system strengthening for effective control of HIV, TB, malaria and COVID-19 response is very important,” he maintained.
National Community TB Taskforce, Dr. Chijioke Osakwe, in his remarks registered his concerns about the long term effect of COVID-19 pandemic lockdown on TB detection and treatment.
He said: “Lockdown and fear of COVID-19 reduced hospital attendance by almost 50 percent. Some facilities completely closed down as a result of infection of health workers with COVID-19, while diagnostic efforts reduced significantly.
“It’s advisable for a wider range of stakeholders already involved in community-based activities to be engaged in order to reach the unreached and to find TB patients early in the ailment,”
Meanwhile, the Team Lead, National TB and Leprosy Control Programme, Emperor Ubochioma, said it was time to persuade traditional rulers and opinion leaders in the communities to join the advocacy.
He said interventions are impossible without support from the community. ‘‘The community is where everybody live and interact. So community entities are needed to support the process of finding, treating and managing cases.”
He challenged all stakeholders to collectively develop effective and efficient strategies that would guarantee support for activities of CSOs in advocacy and enlightenment of communities.