According to the 2022 World Health Organization Global TB Report, Nigeria ranks 6th globally and first in Africa with an estimated 467,000 tuberculosis cases in 2021.
To find tuberculosis cases, the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) is combing communities in Lagos, Oyo, Ogun and Osun states to sensitize and screen for tuberculosis. The USAID Tuberculosis Local Organization Network (TB-LON 3) project being implemented in these states is aimed at rapidly scaling up tuberculosis services through community implementation and partner collaboration.
Umar Hawawu, a widow in Sagamu, Ogun State, Nigeria was identified through one of the community interventions. Though Hawawu often went to a clinic for antenatal services, her regular complaints of cough were attributed to her pregnancy and constant worries over the death of her husband.
Her concerned sister-in-law introduced her to a Community Screening Officer, who collected her sputum and linked her to Sacred Health Hospital in Lantoro, Abeokuta for treatment. Hawawu ensured that she took her drugs daily as instructed in the hospital where she was admitted for one month.
“All my children including the baby were tested but didn’t have TB. I’d like to tell everyone that tuberculosis treatment is free and once you complete your treatment as instructed, you will be well again,” she says.
Another tuberculosis survivor, Mr. Abubakar Abdullahi notes that his lean income as a tea seller compared to hospital charges discouraged him from seeking health care in a health facility.
“When I started coughing and losing weight, I visited a hospital to complain but I was asked to pay N14,000 for preliminary tests. I couldn’t afford the amount and had to go home.”
Abdullahi accessed free tuberculosis screening at his doorstep when a Community Health Officer took his sputum.
“The Community Health Officer came back again to take me to a hospital close to my house in Remo North Local Government Area for medications. The nurse in charge told me that I had been diagnosed positive for tuberculosis. She counseled me on when and how to take the medications. I also received follow-up visits during the period of treatment of six months.”
Abdullahi is healthy now and has returned to his tea-selling business.
USAID TB-LON 3 Community Mobilization Advisor, Dr. Abiola Alege, says that the project has identified 21,687 tuberculosis cases through screening activities in communities from 2020 to date. “Community TB case-finding activities shouldn’t be ignored in our fight to identify all missing cases. This is because the cases identified by healthcare facilities are just the tip of the iceberg compared to what may be hiding within the communities,” she says.
Dr. Alege adds that “TB LON 3 program also focuses on preventive treatment for people exposed to tuberculosis. The project is committed to finding all missing TB cases and linking them to care.”