NACA urges stronger collaboration between TB, HIV programmes

Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS, NACA, Sani Aliyu

The National Agency for the Control of AIDS, NACA, has called on state governments to create stronger collaboration between their programmes for the treatment of Tuberculosis and HIV.

A statement by the agency on Thursday said the Director General of NACA, Sani Aliyu, made the call in advance of the World Tuberculosis Day which will be marked across the world on Friday.

Mr. Aliyu said TB and HIV pose serious challenges to the Nigerian health sector as well as other similar resource limited settings.

“Presently, global efforts to fight TB and HIV require improved collaboration between programmes to ensure a holistic approach in dealing with the dual epidemic.

“Nigeria needs to urgently upscale efforts in preventing, diagnosing and treating TB to ensure success in the fight against both diseases”, he said.

Mr. Aliyu said the federal government was engaging closely with partners to ensure better collaboration at health facilities between TB and HIV programmes.

He said it was therefore necessary for state governments and other facility level to adequately replicate the successes recorded with TB/HIV collaboration at the national level.

“As the Federal Government partners with international donors to continue to deliver the bulk of the national TB programme, state governments should be supported and encouraged to commit funds towards the sustainable maintenance of these machines in both the short and long term”, Mr. Aliyu said.

Tuberculosis is the commonest infection suffered by People Living with HIV (PLHIV).

In 2015, an estimated 36.7 million people were said to be living with HIV in the world, with 25.6 million living in sub-Saharan Africa.

Nigeria presently has about three million people living with HIV, the second highest HIV disease burden in the world.

The Director General, however, urged healthcare workers to be aware of the close link between HIV and TB and always exclude co-infection when assessing patients presenting with symptoms compatible with either or both disease conditions.

“Patients who have TB require immediate testing for HIV and those found to be positive must be started on treatment for HIV. In the same vein, persons diagnosed with HIV require screening for TB and a low threshold for clinical intervention,” he said.

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Nike Adebowale covers the health beat.  She holds a degree from Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti.

Twitter: @nikeadebowale1 

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