The World Health Organisation (WHO), Nigeria, has supported the screening of 2,306 persons for COVID-19 and 2,506 persons for Tuberculosis (TB), using Chest X-Ray, and GeneXpert machine through mobile testing in Kaduna State communities.
WHO Nigeria stated this in a statement posted on the website of WHO Regional Office for Africa located in Brazzaville, Congo.
According to the organisation, 265 COVID-19 cases and 105 presumptive with eight TB cases were diagnosed in six weeks (June and July 2020).
It stated that “presently, Kaduna State is witnessing over 50 per cent reduction in hospital attendance and access to services due to disruption of routine essential services and programmes resulting from prioritisation of COVID-19 response.
“In renewed efforts to tackle COVID-19 alongside TB in Nigeria, a disease that claims about 18 deaths per hour and over 157,000 lives annually, WHO Nigeria is collaborating with Kaduna State Government and other partners.
“WHO Nigeria in collaboration with the Kaduna State Government and KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation, co-facilitated implementation of an integrated community testing for the two disease conditions using a mobile itinerant TB diagnostic facility called “Wellness On Wheels” Truck (WOW Truck).’’
At the launch of the intervention recently, the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai, reiterated commitment to curtail the spread of both diseases.
He said, “we are thankful to USAID and WHO for collaborating with us in our efforts to eliminate TB and COVID-19 scourge in Kaduna.”
In 2019 alone, Nigeria was notified of 120,266 TB patients and therefore, to optimise outputs from the initiative in Kaduna, WHO co-facilitated training of laboratory personnel on the use of SARS CoV-2 cartridges to provide integrated TB testing in the state.
Moses Onoh, the WHO National Professional Officer for TB in the Northwest, said “this is a big leap toward achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
“The integrated diagnostic services for COVID-19, along with TB, Malaria, HIV and hepatitis ensured routine surveillance and management, and minimised the disruptive effect of the coronavirus pandemic on these essential services and the suffering of the public.”
He added that “high risk border communities for COVID-19 in Kaduna, which include Kawo in Kaduna North Local Government Area and Kakuri in Kaduna South Local Government Area, Zaria and Maikarfi all benefitted from the community testing intervention.
“These areas are remotely located and lack access to essential health services. They were able to access screening, testing and treatment services for COVID-19, TB, Malaria, HIV and Hepatitis at their doorsteps than previously done.
“They now have a sense of belonging and feeling of wellbeing as exclaimed by several community leaders encountered in the course of the intervention.”
Aishatu Abdulahi, a 58-year-old mother of five in Markarfi community was elated to have benefitted from the programme.
She said “we thank God and the government for sending this moving hospital to come to our village to help us with the tests and medicines.
“I have not gone to the hospital in a long time and this gave me and my family the opportunity to see a doctor. We hope that government will make it a regular intervention.”
The mobile diagnostic facility, which was launched in mid-June 2020, has drastically increased access of community members to not only TB testing, but also COVID-19 and other deadly diseases with timely linkage to management/treatment.
It has significantly reduced the turnaround time for test results, given the high volume of samples collected for processing.
WHO has continued to support the provision of quality TB services, as well as expansion of diagnosis and treatment for TB, including effective implementation of the Global Fund and USAID grants for TB control.
It is also strengthening the health system to sustain TB and COVID-19 control efforts in Nigeria.