To find and treat more tuberculosis cases in Nigeria, the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) and the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP) have launched a mobile application for screening and notifying TB cases by private healthcare providers.
Announcing this recently, the IHVN Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Patrick Dakum, said that the application, Mobile Application for Tuberculosis Screening (MATS), launched in June was a game changer in the provision of real-time and online information on progress made by private-for-profit facilities, faith-based organisation facilities, patent medicine vendors, community pharmacists, private laboratories and other TB referral entities.
He said: "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.
"Since MATS was launched on June 1st, 2020, there has been an increase in the TB screening efficiency 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 enrolled on treatment," he said.
The IHVN CEO explained that individuals who visit private health providers in the community are screened with standard TB symptom checklist on the app.
Thereafter, appropriate referral of clients or samples for diagnosis and treatment is initiated.
"Private providers can download the app from the 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 the various referral entities can be viewed on the treatment facility's dashboard and a summary on the mobile app," he said.
NTBLCP Monitoring and Evaluation Manager, Dr. Obioma Chijioke- Akaniro added that the app simply shows the efforts directed towards finding tuberculosis cases. "The simplicity of MATS makes it attractive to the private sector especially as they may not oblige to filling cumbersome tools," she said.
Dr. Chijioke-Akaniro said that MATS will be continually upgraded based on feedback from its users.
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.
Upgrade and deployment of the application is implemented by IHVN under the Public Private Mix (PPM) grant funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
"The private sector in Nigeria contributed 14% to the total national TB case notification in 2019. It is expected that the MATS app will contribute immensely to the actualization of the goal of the grant which aims to improve public private sector contribution to the national TB case notification from 11 per cent in 2017 to 35 per cent in 2020" Dr Dakum said.