Nigeria Reaches Vulnerable Population with Client-Centered Strategies for TB and COVID-19 Control – Nigeria

Abuja, 26 August 2022 – On a recent weekday when John Odido, 25, left his home in Gishiri village, Abuja, to go to his barber shop in the same community, he had no intent to perform a medical test or obtain their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Like most young people in the community, Mr. Odido had dithered, believing there was no urgency to get vaccinated due to the drop in reported COVID-19 infection cases in Nigeria.

However, with compelling information from the mobilization team of the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Program (NTBLCP) during the National Tuberculosis (TB) Testing Week community sensitization, with the theme: “Check Am O”, Mr. Odido changed his mind.

The sensitization was organized by the NTBLCP in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners to increase TB case notification in the country while leveraging services to detect Tuberculosis (TB), the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV/AIDS) and COVID-19 cases. and provide the COVID-19 vaccine to the population. The campaigns were carried out from August 1 to 5 in many states of the federation.

Mr Odido joined the queue of people waiting to be tested for TB, HIV and COVID-19 and returned to receive his results after two hours. The results of all his tests came back negative. Subsequently, he received his first injection of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I got the COVID-19 vaccine because I know COVID-19 is still here. It’s convenient to receive him here because it saved me from having to travel to our health center, which is far from my home. I went to convince my friends to take the tests and get COVID-19, but some are declining, and because of them I know that I must continue to observe all infection prevention and control measures,” said he declared.

The selection of Gishiri settlement as outreach post was based on review of data on TB burden and population density of the area, which revealed that some TB patients diagnosed were from this community of the metropolis of the Federal Capital Territory.

For Victoria David, a 40-year-old housewife and mother of six, the TB test brought to her neighborhood motivated her to come get tested as it also saved her from going to the health center .

Mrs. David said she had had bouts of coughing and decided to check it out. “I had been treated for tuberculosis about two years ago. But I started coughing again earlier this year, and as soon as I heard they were doing a TB test, I decided to take the chance,” she said. .

Meanwhile, Grace Daniel, a 23-year-old student and trader, also took advantage of the awareness to receive her second COVID-19 vaccine.

She also lent her voice to convince family members, friends and other young people of the need to get vaccinated against COVID-19 without further delay.

Ms Daniel said she received the first vaccination last year but did not complete it because she had to go to school.

“I kept procrastinating before getting the second dose, but now that they’re here, I got it,” she said.

Optimize opportunities

Tuberculosis and COVID-19 are two infectious diseases that primarily attack the lungs and have similar symptoms such as cough, fever, and difficulty breathing. Tuberculosis, however, has a longer incubation period with a slower onset of disease.

Both diseases have high mortality rates globally, with tuberculosis being the leading cause of death from a single infectious disease before the COVID 19 pandemic, and Nigeria ranks sixth among the 30 worst-affected countries in the world and first in Africa.

Meanwhile, the COVID-19 virus has infected 262,664 people with 3,147 deaths in Nigeria since the start of the pandemic.

To mitigate the spread of the two diseases in the country, the National Coordinator,

Tuberculosis, Buruli Ulcer and Leprosy Control Program (NTBLCP), Dr Chukwuemeka Anyike said the integration of services would strengthen the health system to detect and respond to diseases while placing the patient at the center of health care service delivery.

We are taking advantage of the current TB screening week to find as many missing TB cases as possible in the country. We are also taking the opportunity to test for COVID-19 and HIV and provide vaccination against COVID-19.

“Essentially, the campaign is leveraging the scarce resources available to achieve the global push for integrated health services, and we hope that by the end of the year we will have higher TB case notification than the last year,” he said.

In 2021, Nigeria reported 207,785 TB cases, 50% more than the 138,591 cases reported in 2020.

Vital Partnership

Congratulating the government for this initiative, the village chief, Chief Bala Akusu Nbwaha, said he was impressed by the participation of the people of the community.

“We are educating people about the importance of getting checked for TB and COVID-19 as well as getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Members of my cabinet and I have received the vaccine against COVID-19 and that is why we encourage others to do so, he said.

During the community campaign, 127 people were screened for tuberculosis and 19 tested for COVID-19. Of which 44 presumed TB were identified. For further confirmation, sputum samples were taken from 43 people and 4 were positive. Meanwhile, 64 people have received the COVID-19 vaccine. Of which 57 received the first blow.

Considering that eliminating tuberculosis and achieving herd immunity against COVID-19 are top government priorities in Nigeria, Dr Enang Oyama, WHO Technical Officer, said WHO and its partners continued to support the Government of Nigeria to leverage the COVID-19 response to conduct a joint TB/COVID-19 bi-directional screening and vaccination campaign to improve TB case finding.

He said that with the similarities between the two diseases, an innovative approach was taken to achieve maximum optimization of funds and human resources.

Dr Oyama stressed that active case finding of TB is key to tackling the scourge of the disease, as more than 300,000 cases are estimated to go undetected each year.

“In addition, WHO will continue to support the government at all levels to ensure that the Covid-19 response program leverages the extensive structures and human resource capacities available in the TB program to improve the diagnosis and case management at the community level,” he said.

Technical contacts:

Dr Kelias Msyamboza; Email: [email protected]

Dr. Oyama, Enang Enang; Email: [email protected]

For more information or to request interviews, please contact:

Mrs. Charity Warigon
Tel: +234 810 221 0093
Email: [email protected]