Benjamin Babine, Abuja
The National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP) and the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) in partnership with PharmAccess Nigeria, have launched a mobile application for diagnosing Tuberculosis.
The new application which was unveiled by PharmAccess on Tuesday will be available on all Android mobile phones, and will be able to drastically scale up the treatment of Tuberculosis – one of the deadliest diseases in Nigeria.
PharmAccess in a statement, explained why developing such a technology was important. It said: “Nigeria is ranked as one of the 14 countries with the highest-burden for tuberculosis (TB) and Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (DR-TB). In 2019, Nigeria contributed 8% of the total 4.3 million missed cases of TB globally. It is also estimated that over 70% of TB cases are missed annually in Nigeria due to under diagnosis, weak surveillance, weak universal health coverage, and inefficient linkage between health care providers.
“In an effort to solve this problem, PharmAccess was engaged by the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP) and the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) to design a mobile application for easy screening and diagnosis of tuberculosis cases by private health care providers.”
The Country Director of PharmAccess, Njide Ndili, speaking about the app said: “Our goal in developing the Mobile Application for Tuberculosis Screening (MATS) was to leverage digital and mobile innovations to ensure that tuberculais screening and treatment was more accessible to all Nigerians. Working with the Global Fund, the National Tuberculosis Programme, and other key stakeholders, we are delighted to see our app lead the process to finally eradicate the scourge of tuberculosis in Nigeria.”
The organization explained that the app provides real-time information through a web interface. They went on to explain, saying: “people in communities, who approach private health providers, are screened with standard symptom checklists on the app. Thereafter, appropriate referrals, or sample collection is initiated for diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis.
“Since the 1st of June, 2020, when MATS was deployed, there has been noticeable increase in efficiency of referrals between facilities and community-based entities screening for TB. More than 19,000 persons have been screened leading to the identification of 1,286 presumptive tuberculosis cases, with 52 TB cases confirmed and placed on appropriate treatment.
“This remarkable feat is being recorded from 20 states namely Edo, Delta, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Oyo, Ondo, Osun, Ogun, Kogi, Niger, Sokoto, Plateau, Nasarawa, Kaduna, Anambra, Enugu, Rivers, Imo and Abia states. These states are supported by the GF under the TB Public Private Mix (PPM) grant which being implemented by IHVN and NTBLCP as Principal Recipients.”
Also commenting on the application, The Monitoring and Evaluation Manager of NTBLCP, Dr. Obioma Chijioke-Akaniro said: “The simplicity of the app makes it attractive to the private sector especially as they may not oblige to filling cumbersome tools.
“Also, the cascade from total screened to identified TB cases is a remarkable way to see the effort put towards finding TB cases. After a few months on the field, we will take stock of what has worked, lessons learned and also make adjustments if need be just as we make further plans for it.”
Also speaking about the app, the Chief Executive Officer of IHVN, Dr. Patrick Dakum said, “Mobile Application for Tuberculosis Screening (MATS), launched this month is a game changer in the provision of real-time and online information on progress made by private-for-profit facilities, faith-based organization facilities, patent medicine vendors, community pharmacists, private laboratories and other TB referral entities.