NIGERIA – The Civil Society Accountability Forum has called for the strengthening of community entities to support Tuberculosis case finding efforts and improve health outcomes in the country.
The forum says improving the health outcomes of TB patients is dependent on community involvement, intervention and participation in advocacy.
The assertion is part of conclusions at a virtual conference organised in collaboration with the Stop TB Partnership Nigeria to discuss the integration of community entities in disease response across the country.
The National Professional Officer (NPO-TB) at the WHO, Dr. Ayodele Awe, who is also leading the forum’s intervention efforts explained that civil society organisations need to strengthen existing advocacy structures in rural communities for effective intervention in disease control.
‘‘Integrating community system strengthening for effective control of HIV, TB, malaria and COVID-19 response is very important. Civil Society Organisations plays important roles in national development, particularly at the community level”.
Awe explained that the community remains the operational level for TB control and response as about 75% of cases in the communities are not being detected.
‘‘Some civil society organisations work at the community level but we are still not doing well in TB detection at the community level particularly because of COVID-19 pandemic”, he added.
Calling for a change of strategy in tackling and tracing new cases of tuberculosis, the CSO forum said involving traditional institutions in the process of advocacy will fast track positive outcomes of all efforts.
The team lead, National TB and Leprosy Control Programme, Dr Emperor Ubochioma said it was time to co-opt traditional rulers, faith and opinion leaders in the communities to join the advocacy.
‘‘The community is everybody, where we live and people around us, so community entities are needed to support the process of finding, treating and managing cases. If there is no support from the community, interventions cannot be possible. We have to develop strategies that will support activities of CSOs’’.
The forum further pledged its readiness to increase interventions and service delivery to ensure effective monitoring and evaluation of activities.