Dr Vivian Ibeziako, the Programme Manager, Drug Resistant Tuberculosis, Institute of Human Virology, Nigeria, has called for more collaboration with the private sectors on tuberculosis diagnosis and treatment.
Ibeziako said that this would really help in eradicating tuberculosis in the country.
She spoke at the review meeting organised by the institute and the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme, on Friday, in Lagos that this.
Ibeziako said that there were lots of private laboratories and centres in the country that could help to provide services to tuberculosis programme.
“With my working experience in tuberculosis, we discovered and witnessed so many active private laboratories that can help in tuberculosis programme.
“Historically based on data available, research has shown that 50 per cent of the population go to private sector as a first point of health services.
“This might actually be where we are missing the cases of tuberculosis; that is why involvement of private sector is very important,” she said.
According to the expert, to improve the management and control of tuberculosis, the global fund in collaboration with national programme, is moving toward a new phase starting from next year.
“The landscape of the grant is going to change from a purely drug resistant tuberculosis grants and specific grants to a joint grants.
“We are now going to have a private sector specific grants and public sector specific grants to ensure they provide the same services.
“Giving grant to both will change what we are doing and improve the efforts that we are putting in tuberculosis programme.
“Tuberculosis case notification is still suboptimal and improving access in private sector will help to address data control,” Ibeziako said.
She said that support for private sector was still very low and small scale, but with the global fund support, it will help to scale up private sector engagement.
“We are supporting at least 20 states in the country by combing every private sector to make sure they identify tuberculosis cases and diagnosis,” Ibeziako said.
Also, Mr Elochukwu Adibo, the Laboratory Director, EL-LAB Medical Diagnostic and Research Centre, urged both Federal and State Governments to show more commitment in tuberculosis programme.
Adibo said that more commitment and responsibilities should be provided by the governments, because all citizens were concerned in tuberculosis programme.
“Supporting private sector in every state, will help the private sector to complement what the public sector is doing.
“Till date, 60 per cent of people access healthcare through private sectors in the country.
“I was invited to this review meeting as a private sector, precisely three months ago, the Minister of Health donated gene expert machine to my laboratory.
“We are here today to relate our experience to the entire team, address our challenges and ways to improve them.
“Since we got the gene expert machine, we have been able to test 1, 600 blood samples in which we got 148 positive non-resistant and 12 pre-resistant cases,” he said.
Adibo said that most of the referrals came from private facilities and some from public facilities; saying because of commitment, we bring out our test quickly.
He said some of the challenges the sector was experiencing include insufficient power supply, high cost of operations and insufficient inverter capacity installed.
The director urged the Federal Government to sign the Memorandum of Understanding which would help to know the test costing in the laboratories.
“Right now, blood sample testing is done for free coming from the public and private sectors in Lagos State,” Adibo said.