Health sector stakeholders have decried the continuous dwindling of interventions for Tuberculosis (TB) disease in the face of Covid-19 pandemic.
Spaeaking during a virtual pre-conference, of Civil Society Accountability Forum, organised in collaboration with Stop TB Partnership Nigeria, the Executive Director of KNCV TB Foundation Nigeria, Dr. Bethrand Odume said the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic has have a great toll on the intervention the disease usually enjoy with a decline to an average of 60 percent.
“With the outbreak of COVID-19, all the parameters for TB interventions decrease to an average of 60 percent across the entire TB cascade. The primary cascade there is facility attendance. When people are sick and don’t come to the facility, they are actually in the community. COVID-19 actually made us rethink our strategy and now we are focusing more on community-based interventions. I think that we really need to partner with the CSOs that are already rooted. Since we started moving into the communities, most of the TB cases that have been missing in the facilities are actually being found”, he added.
According to Odume, there is a need for change and renewed strategy in tackling the diseases using the indigenes of the community in the process of identification and treatment.
“We need to begin to work with the partners that are already rooted within the community. In TB interventions, we look at hospital attendees, presumptive we are identifying, etc., before we identify the TB cases and roll them in care,” said Odume
Speaking on the theme of the pre-conference, “Integrating community systems and strengthening for effective HIV, TB, malaria and COVID-19 response in Nigeria.”, the Board Chair of the Stop TB Nigeria, Dr. Ayodele Awe, stressed the need to integrate community system strengthening for effectively controlling of HIV, TB, malaria and COVID-19 response.
According to Dr. Awe, integrating community system strengthening for effectively controlling of the diseases plays a very important role in national development especially at the community level.
Dr Awe noted that the conference which was organised in collaboration with Stop TB Partnership Nigeria was apt due to the prominent role CSOs plays in national development, particularly now that about 75 percent of missing and undetected TB cases are still found in the community and posing a great risk to those around through their continued coughing.
“We are happy that some key civil society organisations are already working at the community level, but we are hoping that there will be a more integrated civil society organisations because we are still not doing well in TB detection at the community level, particularly because of COVID-19 pandemic”, he added.
Similarly, the National Community TB Taskforce, Dr Chijioke Osakwe during his presentation said the is a need to involve affected communities and civil society in the TB response in order to develop a community-based health services through which approaches that protect and promote equity, ethics, gender equality and human rights.
He noted that the fear of COVID-19 and infection of health workers has further reduced diagnostic efforts reduced resulting in disease control efforts break down necessitating the need to strengthen the integration and functioning of community steering committees in the various programs to further create an enabling environment in community activities and service delivery.
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