The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, has recommended Tuberculosis (TB) screening as a pre-medical test for newly employed public servants in both Federal and State Government agencies.
He also advised that the test should be extended to newly admitted students into secondary and tertiary institutions in the country.
Mr Adewole, in a press statement released by the ministry on Monday, said introducing the test is part of the strategy to achieve one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets: “to bring an end to the scourge of TB by 2030”.
Mr Adewole said that to achieve this, the government must utilise all opportunities to screen, detect, and treat TB timely in order to interrupt the transmission of the disease.
The minister made the recommendation in Kano, while chairing the 61st National Council on Health Meeting.
Tuberculosis is the second highest killer disease globally and Nigeria has one of the heaviest burden of the disease in the world.
As at 2017, WHO ranked Nigeria as the fourth most infected country by the disease worldwide.
Unfortunately, many of the TB cases remain undetected.
Nigeria is one of the countries with largest number of undetected TB patients in the world. Only about 25 per cent of TB cases have been detected with many remaining unaware.
Mr Adewole said 2017 and beyond have been declared the years of accelerating TB case findings in Nigeria.
“I wish to advocate that mandatory TB screening be offered to both those who seek health care with or without symptoms/signs compatible with TB and those who do not.”
He directed that all healthcare workers should as a routine, conduct symptomatic TB screening.
“Mandatory TB screening should be part of pre-employment medical tests for the following: newly employed staff in all Ministries, Departments & Agencies at all levels (Federal, state and LGA); and newly admitted students into secondary and all tertiary institutions in the country. This will enable prompt detection and treatment of TB in Nigeria,” the minister said.
“It is also necessary to inform council that in order to further ensure that TB cases are detected among children and their caregivers; I have approved the inclusion of TB response strategies in activities to be addressed under the Saving One Million Lives Programme for Result (SOML PforR).”
He called on all commissioners of health to ensure compliance in their respective states.
The minister added that the screening and detection exercise would give the government an opportunity to offer free treatment to the patients.