By Abujah Racheal
Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) and the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP) launched a mobile application for screening and notification of TB cases by private health care providers.
The Chief Executive Officer of IHVN, Dr Patrick Dakum, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, that the application — Mobile Application for Tuberculosis Screening (MATS) launched this month, was a game changer.
Dakum said that MATS would help in tracing and treating more tuberculosis cases in the country.
He added that the application would also make provision for real-time and online information on progress made by private-for-profit facilities, faith-based organisations, patent medicine vendors, community pharmacists, private laboratories and other TB referral entities.
According to him, the application is already being used in Edo, Delta, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Oyo, Ondo, Osun, Ogun, Kogi, Niger, Sokoto, Plateau, Nasarawa, Kaduna, Anambra, Enugu, Rivers, Imo and Abia states.
He said “since the launch of MATS on June 1, 2020, there has been an increase in TB screening and linkage between facility and community-based units.
“More than 19,000 people have been screened, resulting in the identification of 1,286 TB presumptive individuals and 52 confirmed TB cases on treatment,” he noted.
The IHVN boss explained that individuals who visited private health providers in the communities were screened with standard TB symptom checklist on the app.
He added that appropriate referral of clients or samples for diagnosis and treatment had been initiated “and private health providers can download the app from Google Play Store or via a web link, register as a user and start using the app once activated by a TB treatment facility.
“All screening data from referral entities can be viewed on the treatment facility’s dashboard and a summary on the mobile app,” he stated.
Dakum noted that the private sector in the country contributed 14 per cent of the total national TB case notifications in 2019.
He said it was expected that the MATS app would contribute to the actualisation of the goal of the grant which aimed to improve public private sector contribution to the national TB case notification from 11 per cent in 2017 to 35 per cent in 2020.
Meanwhile, the NTBLCP Monitoring and Evaluation Manager, Dr Obioma Chijioke-Akaniro, told NAN that the app simply showed the efforts directed toward finding tuberculosis cases.
“The simplicity of MATS makes it attractive to the private sector, especially as they may not oblige to filling cumbersome tools,” he said.
He said that MATS would be continually upgraded based on feedback from users.
He explained that the application was developed and redesigned by PharmAccess to suit the peculiarities of private health providers in line with the national algorithm for TB screening and diagnosis.
The upgrade and deployment of the application was implemented by IHVN, under the Public Private Mix (PPM) grant funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, he added. (NAN)