By Hassan Zaggi
The Board Chairman of the Stop TB Nigeria, Dr Ayodele Awe, has insisted that Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are key to eradicating Tuberculosis (TB), especially, at the rural level.
He disclosed this during a virtual pre-conference of year 2020 Civil Society Accountability Forum, organised in collaboration with Stop TB Partnership Nigeria.
The theme of the forum was: “Integrating community systems and strengthening for effective HIV, TB, malaria and COVID-19 response in Nigeria.”
The TB expert reiterated that about 75 per cent of undetected TB cases are found in the community.
He, therefore, called for the urgent integration of community-based approach to finding missing TB across the country.
According to Awe: “Integrating community system strengthening for effectively controlling HIV, TB, malaria and COVID-19 response is very important.
“Civil societies play very prominent and important roles in national development, particularly at the community level. “For us in TB, community level is the operational level for TB and the level for the integration of diseases.
“It is at this level that we were told in a previous survey carried out in 2012 on TB, that 75 per cent of the TB cases that we are not detecting are in the community, coughing, and we don’t know them. We cannot move forward without the civil society.
“We need to increase our collaborative activities to ensure that we are able to detect cases.
“We are happy that some key civil society organisations are already working at the community level, but we are hoping that there will be a more integrated civil society organisations because we are still not doing well in TB detection at the community level, particularly because of COVID-19 pandemic.”
Speaking, the National Community TB Taskforce, Dr Chijioke Osakwe, called for the involvement of affected communities and civil society organisations in the TB response so that the disease can be eradicated in all nooks and crannies of the country.
“We must commit to involve affected communities and civil society in the TB response, and to develop community-based health services through approaches that protect and promote equity, ethics, gender equality and human rights.
“Lockdown and fear of COVID-19 reduced hospital attendance by almost 50 percent.
“Some facilities closed down as a result of infection of health workers with COVID-19, while diagnostic efforts reduced significantly.
“Also, health care workers were reluctant to attend to patients, disease control efforts broke down, and community outreaches stopped.
“There is therefore the need to strengthen the integration and functioning of community steering committees in the various programs, create enabling environments and advocacy, form community networks, linkages, partnerships and coordination, and improve resources and capacity building.
“Others are increase community activities and service delivery, strengthen organisational and leadership capacities, and ensure monitoring, evaluation and planning.”