Picture Above: Patent Medicine Vendor, Mrs Asanbe interacting with her client in front of the store in Badagry, Lagos State.
To find tuberculosis cases in communities, Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) has engaged and trained Patent Medicine Vendors (PMVs) in Lagos, Oyo, Ogun and Osun States to counsel, screen and provide referral services for individuals with tuberculosis symptoms.
More than 378 patent medicine vendors are also involved in organizing community outreaches and sensitization activities about tuberculosis under the USAID TB Local Organizations Network, Region 3 (USAID TB-LON 3) Project.
IHVN TB-LON 3 Project Chief of Party, Dr Aderonke Agbaje states, “PMVs are very important for the detection and referral of clients with TB symptoms at the community level as they are usually the first point of contact for those seeking health services, more so in hard-to-reach areas.”
Patent Medicine Vendor, Mrs Agnes Asanbe is one of those engaged. She notes that prior to the capacity building sessions and mentorship by USAID TB-LON 3 Officers, her clients could freely access over-the-counter cough syrups and antibiotics but through the intervention of TB-LON 3 project, she has learnt how to screen her clients, identify those that are presumptive TB clients and refer them for treatment as required.
“My clients cannot come in and just buy cough syrup. I have learnt to counsel them, screen them, know those that are presumptive to tuberculosis disease so that I can collect their sputum sample and send the sample to the laboratory,” says Mrs. Asambe
Mrs Asanbe also documents information of her clients to ease tracking of positive clients to their homes for screening of their contacts.
”I have so many patients, I do outreaches often… at least every three months, one held August 4th, 2022 in this community and I got 24 presumptives and one positive TB patient. In a month I get 2-3 positive clients which I link to treatment. With guidance of TB-LON 3 officers, we are able to select outreach locations with possible positive cases too. The officers regularly come around to review what I have done and provide guidance’’ she adds.
One of Mrs Asanbe’s clients, Mrs. Oladosu Funmilayo, a trader, visited Asanbe Stores when noticed she had a slight cough which became intense with pains around her chest. After counseling her, Mrs Asanbe gave her a sputum cup for her sample, which was sent to a GeneXpert site. The diagnosis was TB positive.
Mrs. Oladosu said that she was afraid but Mrs. Funmilayo reassured her that once she takes her TB medicines, she would be fine. “I am barely two weeks on drugs but I have noticed remarkable improvement. My message to those who are coughing is that they should go and get screened instead of taking cough syrup and to those supporting this project I pray they don’t get tired,” Mrs Oladosu says.