Experts in Tuberculosis (TB) treatment have identified low testing rates and drug resistance as part of the reason for the TB surge in Delta State. The Senior Program Officer/ State Team Lead for KNCV Nigeria, Dr. Emmanuel Ajumuka, said that most of the challenges they are facing is resistance from residents in the state who manifest TB symptoms to be tested.
Dr. Ajumuka stated that patients manifesting TB symptoms in the state refused to submit sputum and stools for children for testing over a fear of ritual. “Patients manifesting TB symptoms in the state refused to summit sputum and stools for children for testing over a fear of ritual,” he said.
“They said if they submit their children’s stool, we will use it for ritual and for that reason, they refused to submit the stool, and as a matter of fact, the TB is a high increase in the state,” he added.
He said that about ten machines for testing Tuberculosis in the state are not being utilized, noting that treatment is free. “Another problem we are having in Delta state is that the diagnosed TB patients refuse to continue with their drugs,” he added.
“Most of them refused to submit their sputum for test, and most worrisome is that they refused to bring stool samples for their children’s TB test,” he stated.
In his opening remarks at a one-day workshop training on tuberculosis, the Director, Public Health Department, State Ministry of Health, Dr. Christian Tetsola decried the alarming rate of TB cases in the state.
“Tuberculosis is one of the old diseases but so bad that we are seeing the increase, appealing to the public to join hands in the fight against TB by utilizing the facilities in the state,” he said.
Dr. Tetsola urged health workers to exhibit a good attitude towards TB patients to encourage them in early treatment. “We must exhibit a good attitude towards TB patients. It is important to create awareness, to reduce the fear and stigmatization of the disease, and encourage them to seek early treatment,” he stated.
Dr. Ajumuka reiterated the need for more awareness and education about TB, noting that the disease is curable if detected early and treated appropriately.
“We need to create more awareness about TB and its symptoms. We need to address the fears and misconceptions that people have about TB testing and treatment. The public needs to be reassured that their samples will not be used for rituals, and they should trust health workers and the medical system,” he said.
He urged the government to do more to improve access to TB testing and treatment facilities in the state. “The government needs to do more to improve access to TB testing and treatment facilities. We need to increase the number of health workers trained in TB diagnosis and treatment, and improve the infrastructure in our health facilities,” he added.
Dr. Ajumuka also appealed to the public to take responsibility for their health and the health of their families. “We must all take responsibility for our health and the health of our families. We need to take advantage of the free TB testing and treatment services available in the state,” he stated.
Tuberculosis is a serious health problem in Nigeria, and Delta State is not an exception. The state government should create more awareness about the disease, especially the benefits of early testing and treatment. Also, it is necessary to address the fears and misconceptions that people have about TB testing and treatment.
The public needs to be reassured that their samples will not be used for rituals, and they should trust health workers and the medical system. By working together, the state can reduce the incidence of TB and improve the health of its citizens.
To tackle the surge of Tuberculosis cases in Delta State, there needs to be a concerted effort to address the low testing rates, drug resistance, and fear of rituals associated with TB testing. Increased awareness and access to TB testing and treatment facilities, along with positive attitudes among health workers towards TB patients, can help to reduce the incidence of TB and improve the health of the population. With collaboration from all stakeholders, Delta State can achieve its goal of eradicating TB and promoting a healthier future.