COVID-19 is Reason People Shun Hospitals for Tuberculosis Testing, Says BACATMA Chairman


Segun Awofadeji in Bauchi

Executive Chairman, Bauchi State Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Malaria (BACATMA), Dr. Sani Dambam, has disclosed that many tuberculosis patients and people with consistent cough lasting for months in the state have continued to shun hospitals for fear of being diagnosed with COVID-19. Dambam stated this yesterday in Bauchi at an event commemorating this year’s World Tuberculosis Day.

According to him, following the COVID-19 pandemic, people are afraid to report suspected tuberculosis cases to treatment centres in the state for the fear of being diagnosed with the dreaded virus.

Dambam explained that despite the outbreak of COVID-19, BACATMA had continued to attend and treat patients across the state. He revealed that 4,430 tuberculosis cases were recorded in the state in 2020.

“In 2020, Bauchi State recorded and notified 4,430 drug susceptible TB cases. Ninety-three per cent of cases were treated successfully,” the BACATMA boss revealed.

He revealed that the agency had recorded breakthroughs in the control of tuberculosis across the 20 local governments areas of the state, saying BACATMA has 570 free tuberculosis treatment centres across the state in addition to 127 TB diagnostic centres.
Dambam said, “BACATMA has procured 12 GeneXpert machines for treating both drug sensitive TB bacteria and drug resistant variant of the bacteria responsible for multi-drug resistant form of TB.

“BACATMA is harnessing resources to create the needed effort to reach those at highest risk for TB and to identify and implement innovative strategies to improve testing and treatment among high risks populations.”

He lamented that the COVID-19 pandemic had made global healthcare providers and donors to shift their attention from tuberculosis, saying this has created an unfavourable condition in the fight against the bacteria.