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Tag Archives: TB Services

TB Advocate Mobilizes Mother, Children to Access TB Services

When Ms. Prisca Peter, a 34-year-old single mother residing in Lagos State, Nigeria, started feeling ill in November 2023, she went to the nearby chemist to buy over-the-counter drugs including cough syrup. However, the medications did not alleviate the weakness, fever, loss of appetite, drenching night sweats, constant cough, and drastic weight loss she experienced.

Her condition deteriorated such that she was unable to walk or continue her work as a cleaner in a hotel. The Good Samaritan who came to her rescue was Mr. Sunday Michael, a TB survivor and advocate.  Sunday was diagnosed and treated for tuberculosis in Ori-Okuta Primary Health Center Ikorodu LGA, and he referred her to the same facility in January 2024.

Mr. Michael said, “I noticed she was coughing badly, I asked her some questions and noticed she had almost the same symptoms I had, so I decided to take her to the health center I went to for my treatment and proper care.”

The USAID TB LON 3 project which the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) implements, supports screening and treatment for tuberculosis in 2,197 facilities and Ori-Okuta Primary Health Center is one of the supported facilities.

At the hospital, Prisca was screened for tuberculosis and identified as a presumptive TB case. Afterward, her sputum was collected for evaluation, and she was diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) disease. She immediately commenced treatment and took her medications as prescribed.

“Immediately I was told that the sickness could be cured, I didn’t doubt it. I was tired of buying over-the-counter medications and still not getting well. I thought I would even die. I even wondered who would care for my children if something happened to me,” she said.

The USAID TB-LON 3 project also conducted contact tracing. Her four children aged 12, 10, 8, and 5 years were screened for TB and they were all identified as presumptive tuberculosis cases. Upon evaluation of the samples, two of them tested positive for tuberculosis and have been placed on treatment while the other two are receiving free tuberculosis prevention therapy with support from the USAID TB-LON 3 project.

USAID TB LON 3 Community Mobilization Advisor, Dr. Alege said, “Survivors of TB are a key part of our demand creation model as they’re often able to convince newly diagnosed persons who are yet to start treatment through their experiences. This model has been largely successful as the survivors’ point of view is usually more relatable to clients. The survivors on the other hand are more than willing to support healthcare workers in gratitude for saving their lives. Over time, TB survivors are also engaged as community volunteers to support those whose livelihood might have been negatively impacted by the disease condition.”

Prisca and her children are recovering. “If I was to pay money for the treatment, I wouldn’t have been able to afford it. I want to thank your organization for the free treatment. I also want to tell anyone who doesn’t want to take the drugs to know that it is for their good. The drug works well and makes you strong again,” she said.

She promised to be a tuberculosis advocate in her community like Sunday who referred her to the facility and supported her when she could not walk to the facility to collect her medications.

The USAID/Nigeria Tuberculosis Local Organization Network (TB-LON 3) project is a five-year project to scale up tuberculosis services and find missing TB cases. It started in April 2020 and is engaging stakeholders in strengthening a resilient system for sustainable TB control in Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, and Osun states. As of March 2024, 103,900 tuberculosis cases were identified, notified, and are undergoing treatment.

Community Screening Activities Identify 21,687 TB Cases in Four States

According to the 2022 World Health Organization Global TB Report, Nigeria ranks 6th globally and first in Africa with an estimated 467,000 tuberculosis cases in 2021.

To find tuberculosis cases, the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) is combing communities in Lagos, Oyo, Ogun and Osun states to sensitize and screen for tuberculosis. The USAID Tuberculosis Local Organization Network (TB-LON 3) project being implemented in these states is aimed at rapidly scaling up tuberculosis services through community implementation and partner collaboration.

Umar Hawawu, a widow in Sagamu, Ogun State, Nigeria was identified through one of the community interventions. Though Hawawu often went to a clinic for antenatal services, her regular complaints of cough were attributed to her pregnancy and constant worries over the death of her husband.

Her concerned sister-in-law introduced her to a Community Screening Officer, who collected her sputum and linked her to Sacred Health Hospital in Lantoro, Abeokuta for treatment. Hawawu ensured that she took her drugs daily as instructed in the hospital where she was admitted for one month.

“All my children including the baby were tested but didn’t have TB. I’d like to tell everyone that tuberculosis treatment is free and once you complete your treatment as instructed, you will be well again,” she says.

Another tuberculosis survivor, Mr. Abubakar Abdullahi notes that his lean income as a tea seller compared to hospital charges discouraged him from seeking health care in a health facility.

“When I started coughing and losing weight, I visited a hospital to complain but I was asked to pay N14,000 for preliminary tests. I couldn’t afford the amount and had to go home.”

Abdullahi accessed free tuberculosis screening at his doorstep when a Community Health Officer took his sputum.

“The Community Health Officer came back again to take me to a hospital close to my house in Remo North Local Government Area for medications. The nurse in charge told me that I had been diagnosed positive for tuberculosis. She counseled me on when and how to take the medications. I also received follow-up visits during the period of treatment of six months.”

Abdullahi is healthy now and has returned to his tea-selling business.

USAID TB-LON 3 Community Mobilization Advisor, Dr. Abiola Alege, says that the project has identified 21,687 tuberculosis cases through screening activities in communities from 2020 to date. “Community TB case-finding activities shouldn’t be ignored in our fight to identify all missing cases. This is because the cases identified by healthcare facilities are just the tip of the iceberg compared to what may be hiding within the communities,” she says.

Dr. Alege adds that “TB LON 3 program also focuses on preventive treatment for people exposed to tuberculosis. The project is committed to finding all missing TB cases and linking them to care.”

Happy TB Survivors Recount Experiences

Picture Above: TB survivor, Zainab Muhammed.

Smiles have replaced Zainab Muhammed’s constant cough and chest pain. 22-year-old Zainab went to a patent medicine store for cough syrup when she was plagued with constant cough and took herbal medicines when the symptoms persisted for two months. In January 2022, a community volunteer spotted her during routine community visits.

My greatest joy is when children are HIV free, and the mothers are healthy – Mentor Mother

Picture Above: Comfort O. counseling a client at a Health Facility in Abuja.

Comfort O. had a bumpy journey to hope and health after discovering her HIV positive status in an ante natal clinic in 2008. However, with the intervention of the HIV program implemented by Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) with financial support from PEPFAR through US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), she is now living a healthy life with two HIV free children.

“I am Relieved that Tuberculosis Treatment is Free” – TB Survivor’s Guardian.

Figure Above: Esther Aremu now with her good Samaritan, Mrs Olayemi Aremu.

Esther Aremu was a bag of bones when she arrived Adeoyo Government Hospital in Ibadan in June 2021. Her father, a palm wine tapper, had no money to support her feeding or treatment. Her mother had died shortly after Esther was born. Esther’s Good Samaritan, Mrs Olayemi Aremu, had limited resources too – she had already spent money on feeding and caring for the malnourished baby.