By Chukwudi Nwauba
Awka, June 22, 2021 (MOI) Anambra State Commissioner for Health, Dr Vincent Okpala says his ministry will continue to partner the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other partners in the state to end Tuberculosis (TB).
Dr Okpala gave the assurance during a supervisory working visit of the WHO National Professional Officer on TB South East Zone with her team in his office at the Jerome Udoji Secretariat, Awka.
The commissioner commended them for their commitment in the state while assuring them of the State Government’s continued support.
He noted that Gov. Willie Obiano recently approved 110 additional Directly Observed Treatments (DOTs) Centres for Tuberculosis patients to reduce the burden of the disease.
“We will continue to partner with WHO and please let us know the areas that we are to improve on and we wish you all a successful outing in the state,’’ Dr Okpala said.
WHO National Professional Officer on TB South East Zone, Dr Vivian Ibeziako said that objective of the visit was to evaluate what the state had done and to look at the low performing areas that were presented in the last quarter.
“This is a supportive and technical assistance visit to the state and it is routinely done every quarter to prioritise states that need support and interventions.
“It is also to identify how far the state has gone in addressing their challenges as well as proffer solutions to some of the challenges facing the state in terms of implementation.’’
Dr Ibeziako explained that the evaluation would cover facilities, community-assessment and interventions at all levels and as well evaluate what the partners were doing to support the state.
“We have identified facilities that we are to visit; some of them include facilities in low performing Local Government Areas and possibly those yet to be reported on.
“In order to troubleshoot and do a kind of fact-finding mission to identify why this is happening.
“In addition there is an assessment that will take place by the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP) in the state.’’
She said that the assessment would focus on expanding diagnosis in the state through new diagnostic Truenat machine.
“The Truenat Machine is a rapid, chip-based real time PCR testing technology endorsed by WHO in 2020 for detection of TB and Rifampicin resistance.’’
According to her, NTBLCP adopted Truenat MTB-RIF Dx and was approved by the Minister of Health in March 2021.
She urged the state to keep on providing the counterpart support to TB programme in order to improve on what the partners or funding agencies were providing.
“There is still a huge funding gap that needs to be addressed and that is the reason we are making this appeal.’’ In attendance at the visit are the State Director Medical Services/TB Programme Manager, Dr Ugochukwu Chukwulobelu, WHO Surveillance Officer, Dr Ebuka Ugwu, State Drug Resistant TB Focal Person, Mr Dan Okafor and TB Quality Assurance Officer, Mr Ignatius Ejiofor. (MOI)