‘Over 120m Nigerians at risk of Neglected Tropical Diseases’

As the second country with the highest burden of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in the world, over 120 million Nigerians are at the risk of one NTD or the other.

Globally, over one billion people, in about 149 countries are faced with these diseases with Africa bearing about half of the global burden.

The Minister of State for Health, Senator Olorumibe Mamora, who disclosed this at a briefing to mark the 2022 World NTDs Day, in Abuja, said the country’s high ranking also contributes substantially to the burden of NTDs on the continent, especially at a time that the fight to control COVID-19 pandemic and ensure that all citizens are well vaccinated was still ongoing.

He said: “Over the years, the country has been battling seriously to eliminate most of these tropical diseases using the approaches like preventive chemotherapy by conducting mass administration of medicines; morbidity management and disability prevention; integrated vector control; sound sanitation and hygiene practices with safe water supply etc. Currently, we are charting a new course of community engagement for tackling NTDs for sustainability and ownership.”

Mamora added: “The target of the government is to eliminate all the preventable NTDs and ensure the effective control of case management NTDs on or before 2030. Mapping of the endemic areas with some of these diseases in all 774 LGAs in the country, putting in place policies and guidelines to guide all stakeholders etc…”

The minister said that the ministry has taken the initiative of integrating the NTDs programme with other MDAs to ensure that community engagement and WASH practices are well tackled to reduce the prevalence of these diseases

In his address, the World Health Organisation (WHO) representative in Nigeria, Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo, noted that more than one million new cases of neglected tropical diseases are still being detected yearly, while about 50 million persons are at risk of infection yearly.

He said that health inequities triggered by COVID-19 have undermined economic, societal, and developmental progress across the world, adding that NTD programmes contribute to stronger health systems by enhancing capacity, bringing communities together, and contributing to universal health coverage

Mulombo observed that stigmatisation, discrimination and mental health were neglected consequences of disability, mainly from NTDs, noting that eliminating NTDs will ensure an inclusive and equitable response from everyone.(The Guardian)

•PHOTO: Olorumibe Mamora