As Nigeria joined rest of the world to celebrate World Tuberculosis Day on 24 March, no fewer than a hundred people benefitted from the Tuberculosis/Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) awareness and screening campaign organised by Association of Public Health Pharmacists of Nigeria (APHePoN) in collaboration with the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN).
The screening exercise which took place at Shitta roundabout in the heart of Surulere, Lagos, attracted traders, artisans, youth corps members and sportsmen coming out of the National Stadium.
Expressing concern over the prevalence of tuberculosis in the country, Pharm. Moyosore Adejumo, director of pharmaceutical service, Lagos State, declared that regardless of the various challenges facing the health sector, health workers should not relent in their commitment to bringing relief to patients.
“The truth is that tuberculosis is treatable if well attended to. Furthermore, Nigeria has been declared as one of six countries that account for 60 per cent of tuberculosis cases in the world,” she emphasised.
Addressing journalists at the event, Dr Arinola Joda, secretary, APHePoN, declared that tuberculosis is an infection that usually affects the lungs.
Joda explained that it is the leading killer of HIV-positive people and can be spread from person to person through the air.
“Nigeria is among the six countries with the highest burden of TB, which claimed 1.8 million lives in 2015. However the good news is that tuberculosis is not only curable but preventable. Not taking TB drugs daily as prescribed could make the bacterium stubborn and more deadly,” she warned.
The incumbent PSN publicity secretary further highlighted fever, night sweating, continual weight loss, fatigue, chest pains and cough, lasting three or more weeks, as suggestive symptoms of the disease.
On why APHePoN isn’t as popular as other arms of the PSN, Joda explained that the association is still young, adding that the tuberculosis screening is actually the second major programme it is hosting in three years.
“We are gradually working our way up and I believe we will get there very soon. Besides, APHePoN has concluded plans to embark on massive awareness and educating programmes on quarterly basis,” she reassured.
However, much as the participants were enthusiastic about getting tested, it was apparent that many of them had little or no previous knowledge of tuberculosis.
Mr Wasiu Adeyinfa, a commercial tricycle rider, told Pharmanews: “I have been hearing about tuberculosis, I really don’t know what it is all about. However I have learnt some things today from their lectures. We are blessed to have this kind of free initiative among us (less privileged) as people at the top don’t really have our time,” he enthused.
Mr Ajani Badmus, a pensioner, said: “At 83, I have nothing to be scared of. I just came to validate what I already know. Whether it is TB or HIV, I know I don’t have them. Besides, what have I got to lose when the testing is free? That notwithstanding, I appreciate the wonderful job you people are doing here today.”
Mrs Ayisat Ibrahim, another participant, disclosed that other than being contagious and deadly, she knew nothing else about tuberculosis.
“That is why I partake in all these tests on quarterly basis. Apart from mosques and churches, we don’t get to witness this type of awareness and screening frequently in Surulere. I am happy however that we still have good people that offer such services for free,” she stressed.
In attendance at the event were Pharm. Moyosore Adejumo, director of pharmaceutical service, Lagos State; Chief Yetunde Morohunda, former national chairman, Association of Lady Pharmacists (ALPs); Pharm. Bridget Okocha, Surulere zonal chairman, Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN); ACPN Pharm. Afusat Adesina, senior pharmacy specialist, Howard University on SIDHAS (Strengthening Integrated Delivery on HIV/AIDS Services) project; and Dr Olubusola Olugbake.
Others were Dr Oluwayemisi Chukwu-Uro, production pharmacist; Pharm. Augustine Ajijelek, pharmacy specialist, Howard University; Pharm. (Mrs) Ukamaka Okafor, director, education and training, Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN); Pharm. Tinu Ogundipe, member, Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), Ikeja chapter and Pharm. Luqman Miftah, Highrise Pharmaceutical Limited.