ERHABOR: On How To Manage Increasing Cases Of Chest Diseases (2)



Gregory Erhabor is the founder and Project Coordinator, Asthma and Chest Care Foundation; Consultant Chest Physician and immediate past President of Nigerian Thoracic Society and professor of Medicine, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State. He spoke to PAUL ADUNWOKE on management of chest diseases and asthmatic patients. 

Can acute asthma be controlled?
Yes, acute asthma can be controlled. Asthmatic patients can be properly diagnosed and, if they have a working relationship with a health professional, who is competent in managing asthma with the right medications, there will be significant improvement and they will gain control over their asthma.

Is it possible for a volunteer health worker to join this work in asthma, which ACCF is spearheading in the country?
Volunteerism is playing significant place in medicare delivery. I would appeal to the intended volunteers to visit to know how to work with us.

You can also partner with us by supporting a project, endowing a fund, providing free drugs or equipment and in several other ways. You can also become a member and join us to plan programmes and events.

What would you say about Tuberculosis’ multi-drug resistance and similar challenges?
Medical experts have indentified TB as the single and commonest infectious disease worldwide with about 5.7 million cases and over 1.5million deaths recorded in 2013. One-third of the world’s population is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, with a new infection springing up every second, rapidly increasing the rates of TB in Africa, in parallel with the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Today, Nigeria ranks third among the 22 countries of the world with highest disease burden. Though TB is a medical disease, it has a lot of socio economic implications. The presence of the HIV/AIDS pandemic has further led to the increase in the occurrence of TB.

The problem has been further compounded by the emergence of multi-drug resistance and extensively drug resistant TB. Globally in 2013, an estimated 480,000 people developed multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), with extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) reported by 100 countries yet, there is slow progress in tackling drug-resistant TB; as a result, TB affects the economically productive age group in the community, thereby affecting productivity.

This is the reason the world marks the discovery of the organism that causes tuberculosis by Robert Koch in 1882 every March 24th of each year to create awareness. The theme of the 2015 celebration was, “Reach the 3 Million: Find, Treat, Cure Everyone. Out of the estimated nine million TB cases in 2013, only 5.7 million were reported, which leaves over three million people with TB, whose diagnosis were missed or were not reported, and thereby constituting the pool for new infections and diseases in most disease burden countries.

There is the need for renewed focus and innovative strategies to reach and provide care for the over three million, including expansion of Directly Observed Treatment Strategy (DOTS), the current TB treatment strategy, is the most cost effective health care model.

This programme will ensure that TB is eradicated in our lifetime. It challenges us to look at the fight against TB in an entirely new way: that every step we take should be a step that counts for people and will lead us towards TB elimination. Nigerian Thoracic Society, a body of professionals with expertise in lung and chest diseases has been working and collaborating with major stakeholders in order to ensure universal access to TB care.

The society has been working hard on innovative approach to treatment and formulation of guidelines that is well suited and evidence based for our locality. The Society has equally been involved in community mobilisation and public education on various chest diseases including TB. Over the years the association, has been providing education, awareness and dispelling myths and rumours about the disease through schools visits, radio programmes and capacity building for health managers.


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