Involve Youths In Fight Against Tuberculosis, DHDC Urges FG

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Tuberculosis patient
Tuberculosis patient.

Amidst the escalating tuberculosis (TB) crisis in Nigeria, the Debriche Health Development Centre (DHDC), a prominent non-governmental organisation (NGO) has urged the government to actively enlist the support of young people in the battle against the disease.

Speaking at the DHDC 2024 volunteers’ workshop in Abuja on Monday, the executive director of DHDC, Mrs. Deborah Ike emphasised the pivotal role that youth can play in raising awareness, promoting preventive measures, and providing support to affected communities in the fight against TB. The workshop, supported by Stop TB Partnership Geneva, aimed to explore innovative strategies for creating awareness in local communities.

Ike stressed the urgent need for the government to involve young people, given the growing concerns about the spread of TB and the necessity for innovative approaches to combat the disease effectively.

Recognising the lack of awareness about the treatability, curability, and preventability of TB, Ike highlighted the significant challenge of only 30 per cent of people being aware of the signs and symptoms of TB. In response, she underscored the importance of mobilising and empowering young people as advocates and champions to address this critical information gap.

Dr. Bertrand Odume of KNCV Nigeria, addressing the persistent challenge of the stigma associated with TB, cautioned against the prevailing belief among many Nigerians in 2024 that TB was incurable and linked to witchcraft activities. He expressed concern that this misconception has led to widespread stigmatisation, rejection and shaming of TB patients, compelling them to conceal their condition and avoid seeking assistance.

Odume suggested leveraging social media influencers, given the prevalence of social media use among the youth, to address barriers hindering people from seeking care.

The head of advocacy and social mobilisation at the National TB and Leprosy Control Programme, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Jamila Amin emphasised the significance of young people joining the campaign to raise awareness about the risks of undiagnosed and untreated TB through social media platforms and their influence. She highlighted the potential of young people to disseminate accurate information about TB among their peers and throughout the wider Nigerian community.

The event’s highlight included the official kickoff of the one-minute silence for TB campaign, honouring lives lost to TB and urging stakeholders and the general public to take action through increased awareness about the disease via social media. The DHDC’s call for active youth involvement underscores the necessity of a collective effort to control and combat the spread of TB in Nigeria.

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