• Monday, May 27, 2024
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Experts worry over COVID-19 impact on tuberculosis treatment

Experts worry over COVID-19 impact on tuberculosis treatment

Experts have raised concerns over the impact of coronavirus pandemic on Tuberculosis (TB) services saying the gains made over the years risk being reversed as “there is a significant decline in TB testing and treatment since the outbreak of COVID-19.”

TB is the leading cause of death from infectious agents globally and there has been a  drop in the number of people with cough seeking care during the lockdown due to stigma of being considered a COVID-19 patient, they said.

Nigeria is classified among the 14 countries with a high burden of TB and recorded 157,000 deaths in 2018. It is estimated that two out of every 1000 Nigerians will have TB  according to the World Health Organisation.

Joseph Edor, a medical doctor and senior programme officer, Breakthrough Action Nigeria who made this known during a zoom training for journalists on TB oraganised in conjunction with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) which drew participants from some states of the federation.

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“The global response to COVID-19 has slowed the spread of the virus for now but is continuing to cause serious, short and longer-term, disruptions to the programmes for other major diseases. For tuberculosis (TB) in particular, lockdowns on society are already showing signs of severely curtailing diagnosis and notifications,’’  experts have  warned

Noting that the media have focused much attention on COVID-19 since its outbreak at the expense of other public health diseases saying that while the treatment protocol for COVID-19 is to stay at home with symptoms but TB message is to go for a cough test.

Edor stated that the fear of COVID-19 and the possibility of isolation has resulted in stigma around cough adding that TB is spread through the air when the person with TB of the lung coughs, sneezes, sings, or talks.

Listing the common symptoms of TB as are Cough (of two weeks or more), loss of weight (when you are not trying to lose weight), drenching night sweats (when others close by are not sweating like that) and low fever, he said.

“There is a reduction in hospital attendance and those that present refuse to report cough as a symptom” while also explaining that TB testing is free in most healthcare facilities.

According to him, TB medicines are free in designated health facilities as it is also is curable and the patient  not infectious after few weeks on treatment explaining that “there is an urgent need to increase early TB case finding, notification and treatment

Eze Ogali, senior programme officer with BAN  said the training was organized to empower participants to “accurately report on TB and generate more actions following reporting to increase high-quality shows, stories, and write-ups to address concerns around TB/COVID-19 symptoms.

He said participants should emphasize the need for human angle stories focusing on people and their problems, concerns, and achievements in a way “that brings about interest, sympathy or motivation in the audience.”

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