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PharmAccess and partners launch mobile screening app for TB

Nigeria ranks as one of 14 countries with the highest-burden for tuberculosis (TB) and Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis (DR-TB). In 2019, Nigeria contributed 8% of the total of 4.3 million missed cases globally. An estimated 70% of tuberculosis cases are missed annually due to under-diagnosis, weak surveillance, lack of universal health coverage, and inefficient linkage between health care providers.

  • Jun 30, 2020

In an effort to solve this problem, PharmAccess collaborated with the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP) and the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) to design a mobile application for easy screening and diagnosis of tuberculosis cases by private health care providers.

Mobile Application for Tuberculosis Screening (MATS) is designed to align with the national TB algorithm. Whilst taking into consideration the needs of community pharmacists, patent medicine vendors, traditional birth attendants, faith-based organizations, and private-for-profit facilities who play a critical role in the screening of clients and referring them to designated facilities for diagnosis and/or treatment.

Njide Ndili, Nigerian Country Director at PharmAccess, explains, “Our goal in developing MATS was to leverage digital and mobile innovations to scale up tuberculosis screening and treatment in order to reduce the disease burden in Nigeria. Working with the Global Fund, the National Tuberculosis Programme, and other key stakeholders, we are delighted to see the mobile application lead the process to finally eradicate the scourge of tuberculosis in Nigeria.”

The Chief Executive Officer of IHVN, Dr. Patrick Dakum, shared “The MATS launch this month is a game-changer in the provision of real-time and online information on progress made by private-for-profit facilities, faith-based organization facilities, patent medicine vendors, community pharmacists, private laboratories and other TB referral entities.”

Running on an Android mobile platform MATS provides real-time information through a web interface. People in communities, who approach private health providers, are screened with standard symptom checklists on the app. Thereafter, appropriate referrals or sample collection is initiated for the diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis.

All of these are captured and viewed on the app by the private providers and Directly Observed Therapy (DOTs) providers in referral facilities. Since MATS was deployed, on the 1st of June 2020, there has already been a noticeable increase in the efficiency of referrals between facilities and community-based entities screening for TB. More than 19,000 individuals, across 20 states in Nigeria, have been screened leading to the identification of 1,286 presumptive tuberculosis cases, with 52 TB cases confirmed and placed on appropriate treatment.

The rollout across the 20 states is supported by the Global Fund under the TB Public Private Mix (PPM) grant which being implemented by IHVN and NTBLCP as principal recipients.

Dr. Obioma Chijioke-Akaniro, Monitoring and Evaluation Manager, NTBLCP, shares; “The simplicity of the app makes it attractive to the private sector especially as they may not oblige to filling cumbersome tools. Also, the cascade from total screened to identified TB cases is a remarkable way to see the effort put towards finding TB cases. After a few months on the field, we will take stock of what has worked, lessons learned, and also make adjustments if need be just as we make further plans for it.”