As Nigeria joins the world to celebrate this year’s World Tuberculosis Day, the World Health Organization, WHO, has downplayed claims that the bacteria was caused by terrestrial forces.
WHO National Professional Officer, Enang Oyama, explained that Tuberculosis was not caused by witchcraft or poison, as believed by some people.
The WHO officer noted that those who linked the Tuberculosis infection to witchcraft and poison lacked adequate knowledge of the disease.
This was as Oyama pointed out stigmatization and discrimination as a major hindrance to the tackling of Tuberculosis in Nigeria.
Oyama spoke during a sensitization programme to Agwan Shaho in the Karmo area of Abuja on Saturday.
The event had witnessed a large turnout from members of the community, who took advantage of the free testing.
The Sarkin of the Agwan Shaho commended the Federal Government and its managing partners for the sensitization programme.
However, speaking during the event, Dr Oyama said: “The major hindrance to tackling Tuberculosis is stigma and discrimination. Due to the lack of knowledge, before now, once you have TB, people attribute it to witchcraft and poison. They might even attribute it to a relation or your enemy trying to kill you. It’s not true; it’s a myth.
“Tuberculosis is caused by germs called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Its drugs were found to be effective against this bacteria, and since then, there have been technological advancements in terms of new things and innovations to deal with the management of people that have TB.
“Right now, we have drugs that can be given to people that have Tb, and once they take it for six months without stoppage, they get cured.”
The WHO official said the response from communities visited has been encouraging.
“I think it’s encouraging because every time we go to the communities you know, even that same day, you see the committee will be mobilized, and they will come in mass for testing, and at the end of the day, we are able to detect a few of the cases.
“And this is quite significant because it has to do with the overall Tuberculosis notification in the country and thereafter, even after the time of this campaign, you know people will be trooping to health care centres to do the test for the diagnosis and treatment for Tuberculosis.
“So when the Chiefs go back to their various communities, they try to sensitize the people there and because they already know, and they have already been told that if you cough for two weeks or more, you will go to the healthcare facility to be attended to. So a lot of people that have TB that notice that they have cough of two weeks or more, go back to the healthcare facilities and get themselves tested.”