Health Minister Inaugurates N32m TB Referral Laboratory At UCH

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The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, on Monday inaugurated a multi-million naira tuberculosis (TB)  referral laboratory built by Agbami Co-Ventures at a cost of N32 million.

Agbami Co-Ventures  is  a joint partnership made up  of  NNPC, Petrobras, Statoil, Famfa Oil and Chevron, all oil majors.

Inaugurating the  project at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Adewole said the  donation of  the equipment should be seen as an investment that would yield profitable returns.

“This project is quite in synergy with our goal to control and eradicate tuberculosis

“Investing in TB is a wise investment. When you invest one dollar in infrastructure you get three dollars in return but invest one dollar in TB, you get 85 dollars. There is a huge profit.

“In any case a healthy workforce is needed for productive output and we quite appreciate this support because of the returns we get from it,’’  he said.

According to him, the equipment would also help the Federal Government  to accelerate TB case findings.

“Five out of six TB cases in Nigeria are undetected and we want to strengthen our ability to find them, treat them and cure them, and this is doable,’’  he said.

Adewole, however, advised members of the public  to avoid overcrowding and  refrain from eating  contaminated food  to prevent contacting  TB.

“When there is a case of cough lasting for more than two weeks, anybody with undiagnosed fever, sudden weight loss and producing blood  sputum is a suspected case of TB and it should be reported. TB treatment is free,” he said.

The minister, who commended the Agbami group for the initiative, called on other private companies to key into public-private partnership for sustainable and accelerated socio-economic development.

“No government can do it alone; advancement and progress are  recorded when the  private sector collaborates  with the government,” he said.

In separate remarks, the donors said that by supporting the government to improve healthcare delivery access the country, they all  hoped to facilitate the socio-economic development of the country.

The Managing Director of  Petrobras, who was represented by Mrs Meg Irozuru, Government Relations Manager and Nigeria Content Development,  said that the laboratory was part of the partners’  initiative to deliver qualitative healthcare across the country.

NAN reports that the minister also flagged-off the implementation of the  Short Multi-Drug Resistant (MDR) TB treatment regimen at the Government Chest Hospital, Jericho, Ibadan.

The regimen,  which is an initiative of the Oyo State Government in collaboration with the Damien Foundation and Institute of Human Virology of Nigeria,  is to replace the current  treatment which lasts for about 20 months.

Gov. Abiola Ajimobi,  who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Olalekan Alli, said that the facility remained the only Extensive Drug Resistant Tuberculosis treatment centre in the country.

“The treatment centre has reduced the mortality and morbidity rate associated with drug Resistant TB and patients are able to return to productive lives.

“It is therefore of note to appreciate Damien Foundation that has supported Oyo State in various ways,” he said.

Dr Osman Elyaeb, the Country Representative, Damien Fouundation, said that the drive to lessen patients’  concerns and difficulty in taking treatment for drug-resistant TB led to the search  for better and shorter treatment regimen.

“The shorter treatment regimen is the process of treating drug-resistant TB within a nine- month period as opposed to the conventional regimen which lasts for 20 months.

“The clinical trial which lasted for 20 years  was started by Damien Foundation Belgium in our Bangladesh Project  and has been endorsed by WHO.

“ It is a  breakthrough in changing the global guidelines for the management of MDR-TB,” he said.

Elyaeb said that the shorter regimen had  achieved up to 89.7 per cent success rate compared to the conventional regimen which has a cure rate of 60-65 per cent. (NAN)

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