WORRIED by the effect of poorly controlled Tuberculosis (TB) in densely populated communities, St. Kizito Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC), Ilasan Housing Estate, in the Lekki axis of Lagos, has called for collective response of community members to effectively tackle the infectious disease.
The primary care facility, in collaboration with Association of Volunteers in International Service (AVSI), at a recent workshop on TB intervention programme in the Eti-Osa Local Government Area (LGA), raised awareness on the re-emerging TB epidemic, while drawing attention to free care services available at its Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) centre.
It was disclosed at the workshop that no fewer than 150 new TB cases were seen at the centre yearly. Caregivers noted that the index was unsatisfactory because undetected TB patients living in the community usually cause them.
Dr. Ndidi Nwosu of AVSI-St. Kizito Clinic DOT centre said the danger was that each undetected case infects at least 10 people every year in such resource-poor and densely populated area of Lagos.
She said due to the public health nature of the disease it was important for families and the community to apply “a stitch in time…” rule to TB, adding that it demands response to preventive measures and symptoms of the deadly disease.
Nwosu told the audience of traditional chiefs, community leaders, residents, students and other stakeholders present at the workshop to promote good hygiene, well-ventilated housing and high nutritional level.
“Episodes of prolonged cough should also be reported to nearest health centre, while family members of patients encourage compliance to treatment because it takes a some months to complete TB treatment,” she said.
TB is common and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It typically attacks the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body, spread through the air when people who have an active TB infection cough, sneeze, or otherwise transmit their saliva through the air.
Most infections are asymptomatic and latent, but about one in 10 latent infections eventually progresses to active disease which, if left untreated, kills more than 50 per cent of those so infected.
Among its signs and symptoms are persistent chronic cough of more than two weeks, attendant weight loss, tiredness, unusual night sweats, chest pain, breathlessness in severe cases, loss of appetite, blood stained coughs and so on.
Infection rate is higher in overcrowded densely populated situations like prisons, boarding schools, single room apartments, poorly ventilated commercial vehicles, one-room church places, coupled with immune compromised situations such as HIV infection, diabetes mellitus, malnutrition, prolonged steroid use among others.
Nwosu added that while the disease condition was a global problem, over 90 per cent of the disease and death burden are in developing countries of Asia and Africa. Nigeria, which ranked 10th among 22 high burden countries, has new cases of 210,000 yearly, according to WHO estimate and Lagos State accounts for 10 per cent of the national burden for TB (NTBLP Lagos State).
Medical Director of the care facility, Dr. Alda Gemmani, however, added that the cheery news was that the disease was curable and treatment free. She noted that the Catholic-mission PHC that had been offering primary care services to the community since 1991 and had, among other services, strengthened TB-DOT centre to cope with the public health burden in the community.
She observed that activities at the TB DOT centre had over the years received a boost through the support of Lagos State Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control programme that designated it as a satellite DOT centre to care for patients along the Lekki-Epe axis, coupled with facility and capacity development by Chevron Nigeria Limited.
The centre currently boasts of a laboratory for TB tests, centrifuge for PCV and genotype machine, a patient-friendly environment and educational materials for the public.
Stressing that the current facility and the PHC as a whole were designed to serve the community and promote health education, Gemmani urged the residents to take advantage of medical care services to treat ailments especially TB.
On the tour of the TB DOT centre, Baale of Ilado, Chief Olumegbon Afolabi thanked the management of the hospital and organisers of the workshop for enlightening the community on the infectious disease. He said since it was a public health issue, “it is indeed the business of the community to curb the spread.”
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