Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State has introduced a ‘Wellness on Wheels’ programme, in a bid to expand the fight against tuberculosis (TB) to the hinterlands across the state.
Cross River State, it would be recalled, was ranked top performing in the 2020 National Assessment of the National TB Programme and KNCV, while contending with the Covid-19 lockdown, as the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic had an unprecedented toll on most states and health institutions across the country.
The state Ministry of Health said it has recorded success in containing the spread of COVID-19, has also devised means to sustain and improve on TB response viz-a-viz other diseases. This has led to a drastic reduction in the mortality rate associated with those diseases.
Cross River State, at present, ranks the second-best performing state in tuberculosis activities in Nigeria for 2020.
TB is a serious infectious disease that mainly affects the lungs. The bacteria that cause tuberculosis are spread from one person to another through tiny droplets released into the air via coughs and sneezes. With over 1.4 million people dying of TB as of 2019.
Dr Betta Edu, Commissioner, Ministry of Health, Cross River State, on Wednesday, launched the Wellness on Wheels (WOW) programme, an innovation supported by USAID through KNCV in the diagnosis of Tuberculosis. The programme is mounted on a truck which contains an X-ray Machine with CAT system, which can give a presumptive case in three minutes, also has GeneXpert machines that can confirm diagnosis in two hours.
Dr Edu, who assured the people of the state of more positive results in strengthening the health care delivery system, said that “as a result of the unrelenting support of Governor Ben Ayade, our State became the 2nd best in Nigeria in TB activities and I assure you that we won’t relent as TB case finding/management will be stepped up, we want to be number one. By this innovation TB diagnosis and treatment will be brought to our doorsteps even in rural communities. People don’t need to go to hospitals/laboratories to get tested. We will test you in your community and village.
“Our TB testing and treatment has now gone on Wheels and for the next 6months free testing and treatment is available to all. From Calabar municipality the truck is headed to rural communities in Boki LGA; since Boki has the highest-burden/ number of positive TB Cases in Cross River State. I call on Cross Riverians in the hinterlands, hard to reach areas and villages to all come out and benefit from this digital innovation. Cross River State thanks USAID, the Country Director of KNCV, Dr Betrand Odume and his entire team for the support”, she enthused.
Dr Janet Ekpenyong, Director General, Cross River Primary Health Care Development Agency (CRSPHCDA), expressed excitement over the new innovation which will help facilitate the fight against TB in the state.
Also speaking, Dr Betrand Odume, the KNCV country director, applauded the state government for not relenting in the fight against TB and also commended the Health Ministry for an excellent performance last year and for remaining steadfast and focused in giving Cross Riverians a more improved health care system.
The head of the Hausa/Fulani community, which was the host community, Alh Salisu Abba Lawal charged all the Muslims residing in Bogobri to come all out and take advantage of the opportunity to get tested while thanking the Governor and the Commissioner for always carrying the Hausa communities along in all health interventions.
A total of 532 persons got tested at the event.
Highlight of the event was the launching of the Wellness on Wheels Truck by Dr Betta Edu followed by an inspection of the Truck’s facilities.