The Cross River State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Betta Edu, says a lot of people no longer visit health facilities for fear of contracting COVID-19.
She also appealed to residents to report suspected cases of tuberculosis in their communities to the nearest healthcare centre for appropriate action.
Edu made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Monday in Calabar.
The commissioner asserted that the state could not continue to put all its focus on fighting COVID-19 while abandoning other equally infectious diseases to continue to spread.
“Remember clearly that Nigeria now has one of the largest numbers of people living with tuberculosis in the world, in fact, we are the highest in sub-Saharan Africa with the disease spreading.
“We have also observed that people tend to confuse the disease for COVID-19 because of the similarity in symptoms.
“So, while attention is given to COVID-19, we also have been able to focus on other diseases like tuberculosis, HIV and malaria that are still ravaging communities, to see how we can help our people live better,” she said.
She maintained that the state had to be innovative because a lot of people were no longer coming to health facilities for fear of COVID-19.
The commissioner added that beyond the fear of COVID-19, the lockdown adversely affected the livelihood of people in the rural areas, such that many of them lack the resources to move from their homes to health facilities.
“So, we looked for an innovative way to break the barrier and get to the people in the communities and at their doorsteps using a mobile tuberculosis laboratory.
“In the last three weeks, following a planned timetable, the truck has moved from Calabar Municipal Local Government Area to Boki Local Government Area because Boki has the largest number of tuberculosis patients in the state.
“We did our annual planning to sustain the initiative and have also included it in the 2021 budget, to enable us acquire more mobile labs to reach more communities and expand the tests.
“Beyond the trucks which may not be able to access some of the hard to reach areas in the state, we have a network of health workers in the field to pick up sputum samples in the communities for testing.
“We are doing a lot of work around sensitisation to encourage everyone to report whenever they see someone exhibiting symptoms like cough that has exceeded seven days or coughing out sputum mixed with blood.
“Others include; sweating profusely at night even when the weather is cold, weight and hair loss and swollen chest,” Edu said.
It would be recalled that the state government had inaugurated a mobile tuberculosis testing lab which was going round the Local Government Areas to pick samples and test residents for tuberculosis.
NAN reports that tuberculosis is a disease caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis which usually attacks the lungs and could also damage other parts of the body.
It spreads through the air when a person with tuberculosis of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, or talks.
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