Benjamin Nworie in Abakaliki
The federal government has disclosed that Nigeria ranks first in high tuberculosis burden in Africa and 4th among 30 countries globally.
The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, said efforts were on top gear by the Federal Ministry of Health to achieve the target of providing one machine per local government area across the country in the fight against tuberculosis epidemic.
The minister stated this in Abakaliki during the inauguration and handover of a fully equipped Chest Clinic built by Agbami partners to the Ebonyi State government.
Represented by the Medical Director, National Obstetric Fistula Centre, Professor Sunday Odueoye, the minister said the machines would not only provide GeneXpert MTB/RIF technology as the primary diagnostic tool for TB among all presumptive TB cases in the country including PLWHA but also increase the number of notified TB cases, especially in the rural areas.
The Agbami partners; FAMFA Oil Limited, Petrobras, Statoil, Chevron and Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC handed over the Chest Clinic to Ebonyi State government for the use of Mile Four Hospital, Abakaliki, established by the Catholic Church to provide specialised care to sufferers of tuberculosis in the state and beyond.
Adewole who commended the initiative and contribution of the church in providing quality healthcare for the people added that tuberculosis remains a serious public health problem in most parts of the world causing deaths of nearly one and half million people each year, mostly in developing world.
He noted that President Muhammadu Buhariâ€™s administration through the Federal Ministry of Health has taken steps to control TB in Nigeria by introducing the use of the GeneXpert MTB/RIF technology as the primary diagnostic tool for TB among all presumptive TB cases in the country, scaling up the number of facilities providing GeneXpert services from seven health facilities in 2011 to 318 facilities before the end of 2016, providing guidelines, tools and SOPs to enhance TB control efforts.
In their separate remarks, the Group General Manager, NAPIMS, Mr. Dafe Sejebor who stated that the project was aimed at facilitating the socio-economic development of the country added that the commitment of the agency is to see that the standard of living and quality of life of Nigerians were improved upon daily.
Represented by Uzo Ejidoh, the Group General Manager added: â€œI am happy to note that the Agbami partners remain committed to improving the quality of healthcare in our society through the provision of infrastructures such as Chest Clinics to address chest-related ailmentsâ€.
Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State commended the benefactors for the initiative adding that they have through the execution of the project fulfilled their corporate social responsibility to the society.
Umahi who was represented by the State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Daniel Umezurike, expressed hope that the Chest Clinic would help to tackle incidences of tuberculosis and other health related issues in the state even as he x-rayed some of the contributions of the present administration in the area of combating malaria, TB and HIV/AIDS.