HomeCover StoriesSPECIAL REPORT: How Kano government partners USAID to curb Tuberculosis

SPECIAL REPORT: How Kano government partners USAID to curb Tuberculosis

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By Victor Christopher @iamvictorcool

Endless coughing for about three weeks, feeling exhausted, high temperature, loss of appetite, and weight loss—when you notice any of these symptoms, TB may be at your doorstep like Amina Abubakar.

Amina, a teenage girl who resides in Fagge Local Government, is currently a patient at the Sabo Garba Clinic and Maternity Hospital in Fagge.

Amina was coughing helplessly when I visited the hospital’s isolation room, where she was being treated.

“I was admitted three days ago. I barely sleep at night because of the cough, and I’m currently feeling feverish”, she said.

Similarly, Binta Muhammad, another resident of Fagge, weighed 50kg prior to her ordeal. But after she was diagnosed with skeletal tuberculosis six months ago, she is currently weighing 42kg.

But the good news now is that Binta is recuperating after she was placed on six months of TB treatment courtesy of the state government and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Breakthrough Action Nigeria (BA-N) project.

“Whenever I sleep at night, my mattress will be soaked in my sweat. And, as you can see, I’ve lost a lot of weight because of the disease. I was even stigmatised, which makes me feel very bad.

“After they confirmed that I had TB, they placed me on 6 weeks of TB treatment. I left the hospital last week after the nurse confirmed that I was TB-free again. So, I want to thank the donors for their support”.

‘10.6 million affected, 1.6 million deaths recorded yearly’

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease that most often affects the lungs and is caused by a type of bacteria. It spreads through the air when infected people cough, sneeze, or spit. Babies and children are at higher risk.

In 2021, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says 10.6 million people will fall ill with tuberculosis (TB) worldwide. Six million men, 3.4 million women, and 1.2 million children.

It also says 1.6 million people die from TB (including 187 000 people with HIV), making it the world’s top infectious killer disease.

Nigeria is ranked the number one TB-burdened country in Africa and the sixth worldwide, with 467,000 people suffering from TB. However, while a total of 218,000 (47%) people are currently under treatment, 249,000 (53%) are yet to be detected.

Kano records 8,637 TB cases quarterly, with 93 deaths in six months

A report from the Kano State Ministry of Health indicates that the state is recording 8,637 TB cases per quarter; hence, Kano is leading other states with the highest record of TB cases.

The state also recorded 93 deaths due to TB in the last six months. This explains the worrisome situation of TB disease and the need for timely diagnosis and treatment.

Kano Government partners with USAID for intervention

However, in 2020, the State Government and its partner, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), through its Breakthrough Action Nigeria (BA-N) Project, launched a behavioural change campaign to educate residents on the essence of TB testing.

A year later, in 2021, the National Tuberculosis, Leprosy, and Bruli Ulcer Control Programme (NTBLCP) launched the TB Unified Campaign tagged “Check am o” to further educate people on the signs and symptoms of TB and encourage them to get tested if they have any signs or symptoms of the disease.

According to the NTBLCP, the goal of the campaign is to increase TB case findings, put many people who are vulnerable to developing active TB on preventive treatment, and proactively prevent further transmission of TB in the communities.

The State Coordinator of Breakthrough Action Nigeria Project, Ahmad Muaz, says “We have conducted free TB tests for over 200 thousand people in 2023 and placed 15,000 patients who tested positive for TB on treatment”.

According to Ahmad, “The campaign also informs the people that all TB services are free and are available at health facilities across the state.”

Positive impact of intervention

Sani Sharif Sani, a resident of Kurna Asabe in Ungogo Local Government Area of the State, is one of the patients who recovered from the deadly disease after the intervention of the BA-N initiative.

“I have suffered from this disease for like a year. After the treatment, the nurse tests my catarrh, and the result shows I’m negative. So, I’m very happy right now”, he adds.

Kano commemorates 2023 National TB Testing Week

As the state commemorates the 2023 National TB Testing Week this year, the state government, with its donor partners, carried out TB outreach in 53 communities to end the deadly disease.

During my TB monitoring visit to Dugwu, one of the designated testing venues at Ajingi Local Government, over 100 people were queueing, eagerly waiting to be examined.

Commenting, the State Programme Manager of Tuberculosis, Leprosy, and Buruli Ulcer Control Programme, Dr. Ibrahim Aliyu Umar, said due to the challenges posed by TB, the state government has provided 1,346 facilities to halt the further spread of the disease.

Dr. Aliyu further said, “The programme would be sustained to ensure that the state is TB-free”.

On his part, the State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Abubakar Labaran Yusuf, says anyone who tests positive for TB will be placed on free treatments, like how over 8,277 patients recently benefited.

According to him, “anyone who tested positive for TB would be treated in the facilities set aside across the state.”

“I am happy to inform you that we placed a total of 8,277 TB patients, which represents 96% of the total burden on TB treatment”.

Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) in April this year puts TB as the 13th leading cause of death and the second leading infectious killer after COVID-19, with 1.6 million people dead in 2021 alone.

This implies that TB kills faster than HIV, AIDS, and other life-threatening diseases; hence, the need to prioritize diagnosis to aid early detection and timely treatment.

This story is supported by Breakthrough Action Nigeria, a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) project dedicated to funding social and behavior change (SBC) projects designed to increase the practice of priority health behaviors in the areas of malaria, maternal, newborn, and child health, including nutrition, and tuberculosis.

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