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Children’s Day: DEBRICHE, NTBLCP Collaborate For TB Community Testing

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Children being tested for tuberculosis at the Chief’s Palace in Durumi 1, Abuja.

DEBRICHE Health Development Centre (DHDC) has entered into a partnership with the National Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Buruli Ulcer Control Programme (NTBLCP) to commemorate Children’s Day with a significant health initiative.

The partnership focuses on community-based tuberculosis (TB) testing, aiming to raise awareness and provide essential health services to local families.

At the official launch of the initiative at the Chief’s Palace in Durumi 1, Abuja, executive director of DHDC, Mrs. Deborah Ikeh emphasised the collaborative efforts involved in the campaign. “Our partnership with the NTBLCP and other organisations is crucial for the success of this initiative,” she stated.

TB is a significant public health challenge in Nigeria, with the country having the highest TB burden in Africa.

A substantial proportion of TB cases in Nigeria affect children. Approximately nine per cent of reported TB cases in 2023 were in children, indicating a significant gap in case detection and reporting.

Early testing and treatment are essential to control the spread of TB and safeguard children’s health.

Ikeh stressed that through joint efforts, more communities can be reached, ensuring children receive the testing and care they require.

“Today, funded by Stop TB Partnership Geneva, we are organizing several events on Children’s Day, including educational sessions on TB prevention and free testing for children and their families.”

The initiative highlights the importance of early detection and treatment of TB, especially in vulnerable populations.

Community engagement plays a crucial role in combating TB. “By providing these services directly to the community, we aim to identify cases early and reduce the spread of this infectious disease,” she added.

Moreover, the utilisation of the OneImpact Application (App) will enable Nigerians, particularly those affected by TB, to report, track and respond to issues related to the availability and accessibility of quality TB services in the country.

“The app aims to enhance accessibility, availability, and quality of TB care and support services in Nigeria,” she emphasised.

Such initiatives are pivotal. “Early detection and treatment of tuberculosis are essential, particularly in children who are more susceptible to the severe impacts of the disease.”

FCT TB programmes manager, Dr. Ngozi Ebisike noted that the initiative includes free TB testing outreaches at various locations, providing vital services to children and the broader community.

Ebisike highlighted the aim to boost TB awareness and promote early detection and treatment during this period.

She pointed out that the gap in case detection mainly affects children, attributing it to insufficient skills among health workers in detecting childhood TB and a lack of awareness among families and communities.

The week-long event underscores the commitment of the government and partners to combat TB in the country, emphasising the importance of early detection and treatment to mitigate the spread of the disease.

Health sector partners, like The Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN), expressed their support. “Community-based approaches are crucial in the fight against TB,” they affirmed.

IHVN stated that these outreach programmes bring essential services directly to those most in need, overcoming barriers such as lack of awareness and accessibility.

The community warmly received the event, with many parents expressing gratitude for the accessible health services.

The NTBLCP commemorated Children’s Day by focusing on the health and well-being of children.

The initiative, running from May 27 to June 2, 2024, aims to enhance awareness and access to TB testing and treatment, especially for children nationwide.

Despite efforts to enhance TB detection and treatment, childhood TB remains under-diagnosed due to factors like insufficient training of health workers and the lack of integration of TB services into routine children’s health services.

The Nigerian government, in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other partners, has been implementing various initiatives to improve case finding and treatment, with a focus on innovative strategies and community-based approaches.

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