NNPC, Chevron, Others Fund Tuberculosis Cure with N2.7bn in 11 Years

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Chineme Okafor in Abuja
Oil production joint venture partners comprising the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Star Deepwater Petroleum Limited (a Chevron Company), Famfa Oil Limited, Equinor, and Petroleo Brasileiro Nigeria Limited, spent N2.7 billion in the last 11 years supporting efforts to cure and eradicate tuberculosis in Nigeria, THISDAY has learnt.

The partners were involved in the Agbami field joint venture oil production, and Medical Director, Chevron Nigeria Limited, Dr. Paul Areyenka, who represented them recently at the National Tuberculosis Conference which held in Abuja, explained that they have supported governments in Nigeria to strengthen their health systems targeting the triad of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), malaria and tuberculosis.

Areyenka, in his presentation on how the private sector could support improvement in health system in Nigeria, with the experience of the Agbami partners on tuberculosis treatment and prevention, stated that they deployed a social health investment program targeting tuberculosis disease.

The system, he noted covered building of infrastructures such as chest clinics, conducting awareness and advocacy campaigns and assisting in protecting tuberculosis health care workers to contribute to the realisation of the goals of Nigeria’s national tuberculosis program.

“Through the construction and equipping of 28 chest clinics across the country, we have contributed to strengthening health systems and supporting the treatment and care of tuberculosis patients in Nigeria.

“The chest clinics were built in close collaboration with the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Program (NTLCP) of the ministry of health, in existing government hospitals and handed over to the states in which they are located for management, and the facilities are fully-equipped with standard x- ray machines, male and female wards, treatment rooms, laboratories and gene-xpert machines,” said Areyenka.

According to him, since 2008, the Agbami parties have spent a total sum of N2.7 billion ($16.6 million) to build and equip these chest clinics donated to government hospitals across the country.
He added that between 2015 and 2017, over 48,000 presumptive tuberculosis cases were registered in these facilities, with over 11,000 cases detected.

“The chest clinics have contributed to about three per cent of the national presumptive TB (tuberculosis) cases registered and three per cent to the national aggregate of TB cases, while the awareness campaigns have reached over 100,000 community folks and tested over 8000 presumptive cases with about 2000 cases detected,” Areyenka noted.

He emphasised that a critical element in the Nigerian national response strategy on TB was in finding missing TB cases, and stated that the Agbami parties in close collaboration with the NTLCP and specialised non-government organisations have conducted TB awareness and advocacy campaigns in states such as Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Oyo, Kano, Kaduna, Nasarawa, and Lagos.

Areyenka, also disclosed that in recognition of the increased risk of TB infection faced by health care workers (HCWs), the Agbami partners have in close collaboration with the federal health ministry, backed health worker training as well as the publication and distribution of the National Biosafety Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and the National Standard Operating Procedures for Tuberculosis Laboratory Diagnosis.

He assured that the Agbami parties were committed to improving the health and wellbeing of people in the areas they operate, adding: “The Agbami parties will continue to support solutions to address the scourge of tuberculosis in the country.”