Govt Tasks Clergymen to Join In the Fight Against TB and Leprosy
15 Jul 2011
Church leaders in the thirty one local government areas of Akwa Ibom State have been called upon to refer persons suspected to have tuberculosis or leprosy to government hospitals for diagnosis and free treatment to curb the spread of the diseases. The state tuberculosis and leprosy control officer, Dr. Valerie Obot, made the call during a one-day sensitization meeting organized by the ministry of health for clergy men, represented by Mr. Armstrong Hogan.
Dr. Obot said the meeting was convened to partner with church leaders in the fight against new infections in the state and expressed hope that the meeting will motivate them to become more interested in members who have symptoms of the diseases by referring them to government hospitals. “This is the second of the series of meetings with Clergymen held in the state. Last year, a similar meeting was held to sensitize clergymen on tuberculosis and leprosy. While ministering, a brother or sister might be coughing and the work of the clergy would be at the end of the service, take the person aside and ask of how long the cough has persisted. If it is two weeks and above, tuberculosis could be suspected and the person referred to a government hospital for diagnosis and treatment. In the whole of this country, this treatment is done absolutely free”, he said.
In a lecture on “Symptoms, prevention and treatment of tuberculosis and leprosy, Dr. Imoh Udoh said the diseases are caused by bacteria and asked them to watch out for any coughing that has lasted more than two weeks for tuberculosis while a white patch on the skin with loss of sensation could indicate leprosy and spread from person to person through sneezing, coughing and inhaling droplets. He said leprosy which is a chronic infection has a long incubation period of two to ten years and persists with change of skin till it becomes white. Adding that close proximities to those infected make people prone to having this sickness. Dr. Udoh while observing that the state government alone cannot succeed in the fight to eradicate tuberculosis and leprosy asked the participants to join hands with the government to fight the disease by spreading the message in their different churches and communities. He warned against keeping patients in churches or homes until their conditions get late for any medical intervention.
In a similar development, The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, faith-based organizations and representatives of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs and other Muslim Women Organizations have also been admonished to join in the fight against the spread of tuberculosis and leprosy.