By Akpan David, Calabar
The Commissioner for Health in Cross River State, Dr Betta Edu has said that they can not only focus all attention to COVID19 to the detriment of other equally infectious diseases.
Edu stated this while fielding questions over the telephone from reporters.
She said Tuberculosis is as deadly as Coronavirus now ravaging the world but that it appears everyone is paying too much attention to it than TB and other infectious diseases.
“Nigeria now has one of the largest concentrations of people living with Tuberculosis in the world. The country is, in fact, the highest in sub-saharan Africa with the disease spreading swiftly.
“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, the Human Immune Virus (HIV) and malaria that are still ravaging communities, to see how we can help our people live better,” she said.
Edu explained that since people were no longer coming out to test for tuberculosis and other diseases, the state had to be innovative by introducing mobile tuberculosis testing lab which which travels to the 18 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the state to pick samples and test residents for tuberculosis.
Edu appealed to residents of the state to report suspected cases of tuberculosis in their communities to the nearest health facilities for appropriate actions.
“So we had to look 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 Municipality LGA to Boki LGA because Boki has the largest number of tuberculosis 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.