EHS-COVID (451) WHO: Tuberculosis deaths rise for the first time in more than a decade due to the COVID-19 pandemic (3)

25 October, 2021

[The message below is forwarded on behalf of HIFA member Chiabi Bernard Ful, Cameroon]

Dear Neil,

Thanks for sharing the report on TB death rise due to COVID-19 pandemic.COVID-19 pandemic has resulted to an increase in TB death due to stigma as patients presenting with signs and symptoms refuse to go the health unit for diagnosis and treatment.

This can be reduced if we intensify TB case finding.TB and COVID share similar signs and symptoms and if medical consultants could request a covid test together with a sputum sample for TB diagnosis, more cases will be diagnosed and treated since test and treatment are free.

A research is already ongoing at the level of the District hospital where patients sent for covid test, a sputum sample is collected for analysis as part of the TB case finding intensification to diagnose and treat more patients.This project needs partners and financial resources to be sustainable.

We face challenges like lockdowns due to the conflict in anglophone Cameroon where patients find it difficult to travel to the district hospital for consultation, diagnosis and treatment.Due to these lockdowns, patients could be consulted in their communities, with sample collection and transportation to the district hospital laboratory for analysis.

International and donor organisations should invest their funds in such research and innovations.This will close the gaps in the diagnosis , treatment and care for patients especially those in conflict affected zones of Sub Sahara African countries and other LMICs.

GeneXpert is the test done for the research while microscopy still remains the standard test.TB research laboratory is the doing a lot of work on multi drug resistant TB for diagnosis and treatment.

HIFA profile: Chiabi Bernard Ful is Director of Boyo Association for Rural Development (BARUDEV--Cameroon). This is a local NGO found in Boyo district of North Western Cameroon. Our activities are to empower women, protect the sexual and reproductive health for women and girls, and protect the rights of children. We have been training community health workers to follow up patients, pregnant women, sick children and refer them to the hospital. barudev AT

[Forwarded by Neil PW]