By Hassan Zaggi
In order to overcome the challenge of missing Tuberculosis (TB) cases in Nigeria, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded project- Sustaining Health Outcomes through the Private Sector Plus (SHOPS Plus) TB Program, has developed a mobile application that will help health workers diagnose and report TB cases to the National TB and Leprosy Control Program (NTBLCP).
The App is christened- TB STARR.
According to the TB Technical Director, USAID/SHOPS Plus, Dr Bolanle Olusola-Faleye, TB STARR is an innovative mobile application for TB screening, diagnosis, and reporting for independent clinical providers.
“With a treatment coverage rate of 24%, Nigeria is missing over 300,000 of the estimated 407,000 TB cases and accounts for 9% of the global gap in TB case detection.
“Health workers who are not affiliated with the National TB Program in Nigeria do not have proper information and tools to diagnose and report TB because paper registers and reporting forms are time consuming and expensive to duplicate and collate at scale.
“This results in missed opportunities to diagnose and notify TB cases and contributes significantly to the missing TB cases in Nigeria,” Dr Bolanle further said.
She disclosed that the TB STARR Version 1.0 mobile application is publically available for free in the Google Play store and is currently undergoing beta testing.
Explaining how the TB STARR can be used, she said:: “After downloading the app, the health worker is required to do a simple, one-time registration to protect patient data and link them to the National TB Program.
“Once registered, health workers can opt to diagnose TB “Do you suspect TB?” or notify the NTBLCP of a confirmed TB Case “Report a TB case”.
“This data will be shared with the NTBLCP through a multi-level web-based dashboard.”
Speaking, Chief of Party, SHOPS Plus, Nigeria, Ifeanyi Okekearu, noted that the project is very important in the sense that this is one of the few projects that is looking at TB case detection and treatment with the support of the private sector.
“The whole essence of the Digital App is to make it easier for the private sector to get involved in TB case detection, to report TB cases and to notify these cases so that they are recorded on the Nigerian sphere that this is what is happening and how it is,” he reiterated.
The Chief of Party further stressed that: “What is more important is that with this particular component, it does not only help you to report cases that you are dealing with, it also helps you to know what is happening within the sector.
“It also helps you to seek for the referral or support that is needed as a provider or even as a stand -alone person to contribute to the TB case detection and treatment in Nigeria.”