Dr Taofeekat Ali, Programme Manager, TB, Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN), has said that the private sector was using innovative approaches to pick out hidden Tuberculosis (TB) cases.
Ali told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abuja that the goal was to end the disease in the country.
“We know that statistically, at least 60 per cent of the populace visit the private sector to access health care.
“Before the Global Fund, this large proportion of the populace had no access or very little access to TB services because the knowledge and the availability of service in the private sector was limited.
“With the Public Private Mix grant under IHVN, we have been able to expand the coverage; we have more private facilities offering TB services.
“When we say private facilities, it goes beyond the regular hospital and clinics that you walk into. It also means the community service providers, the patient medicine vendors and the community pharmacies,” she explained.
She said that IHVN had increased awareness and included more of the private facilities in the TB campaign.
“More personnel have been trained. They have heard messages and have tools to be able to provide TB services. This has led to an increase in coverage as well as notification.
“We have doubled the proportion of private facilities reporting TB cases in Nigeria in the last two years.
“That is a huge milestone that we are still working on. We are doing this in collaboration with the national programme and all stakeholders so as to move faster.
“We are campaigning towards ending TB in Nigeria through the private sector,” she added.
On how IHVN has managed COVID-19 and other infectious disease, she said that the “Gene Xpert” platform was a testing facility that had multiple uses and its arrival in the country was primarily for the diagnosis of TB.
“But, over the years, we have seen other diseases leveraging on that platform. With the arrival of COVID 19 and the upsurge in hepatitis, we have experienced some strain on that testing platform.
“We know the tenant challenge that came with COVID 19; there was need for rapid upgrading of the facilities to ensure that they were able to test COVID 19, but it has been a collaborative effort.
“While there was an increased burden on that facility, we have also been able to leverage and work together in partnership.
“The Nigeria Centre For Disease Control (NCDC), TB programme and all other stakeholders have worked together to ensure that we do not neglect TB while looking at COVID-19.
“What we have done is to ensure that the health care workers at the testing laboratories are trained so that they are able to respond to both COVID 19 and TB,” she explained.
According to her, IHVN has also worked with other stakeholders to ensure that there were more vaccines in the country.