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Health Experts Warn Against Stigmatising People with Tuberculosis

Health Experts Warn Against Stigmatising People with Tuberculosis

Funmi Ogundare 

Health Experts, yesterday, warned against discriminating  and stigmatising people affected by Tuberculosis (TB), noting that this discourages them from coming out for  treatment.

They made  this known at a one-day training, in Lagos, for journalists on key concepts in Tuberculosis Prevention and Control, organised by the Institute of Human Virology (IHVN) in collaboration with Breakthrough Action-Nigeria (BA-N) and Lagos State Ministry of Health.

The training was aimed at increasing the knowledge of media personnel on TB control efforts in Nigeria and improving the quality of media reporting on the disease.

The Deputy Director and  Programme Manager, Lagos State Tuberculosis, Leprosy, and Buruli Ulcer Control Programme, Dr. Olusola Sokoya,  explained that TB is a chronic infectious disease transmitted through the air and caused by mycobacterium tuberculosis.

He stated that  TB is one of the devastating diseases that have an impact on our health globally and the entire country at large.

He added that the treatment is providing free diagnosis and treatment to people with TB in various health facilities across the state.

According to him, “TB is a preventable and curable disease. It is not a death sentence. Once you are diagnosed with TB, you will receive treatment for free at any general hospitals, some public primary health care centers and some private hospitals.”

Sokoya noted that Lagos state started the TB intervention programme in 2003 and that the state currently contributes 11 per cent of the national TB burden.

He said there are numerous yet-to-be-identified cases of TB, while  appealing to the media to sensitise members of the public on the need to get tested and treated for TB, as it is curable, compared to other ailments like hypertension, diabetes or malaria.

Senior Programme Officer II TB/RCCE, USAID Breakthrough Action-Nigeria, Dr. Joseph Edor listed some of the symptoms of TB including; night sweeats, coughing for more than two weeks, weight loss, fever, and hemoptysis (blood in cough).

He also explained that the risk factors for TB are germs which spread easily in overcrowded area, and that it is often common in areas with high population density.

He encouraged people to go for testing and chest X-rays in any of the public health facilities across the state, to reduce the spread of the airborne disease.

“Once you are treating TB, you won’t take the drugs for life. It is just for six months. Once you start taking the treatment and medication, you will no longer be able to transmit TB after the first two weeks,”Edor stated.

The Lagos State Team Lead, USAID IHVN TB LON 3 Project, Dr. Babajide Kadiri, disclosed that children can also contract the disease, adding that TB in children under 15 years of age is a public health problem of social significance as it represents a recent transmission from an infectious adult.

He stressed the need for adults and children to go for treatment, as it is free and the disease is curable

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