By Lucy Osuizigbo-Okechukwu
The Anambra Government, in partnership with the Carter Centre, said it treated no fewer than 4.7 million persons of the four major Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in the state in 2022.
The state’s Commissioner for Health, Dr Afam Obidike, gave the statistics at a news conference on NTDs interventions to mark the 2023 World NTDs Day, in Awka, on Thursday.
The theme for the 2023 World NTDs Day was: “Act Now, Act Together, Invest in Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases.’’
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that World NTDs Day is marked every Jan. 30 to re-energise the drive to end the suffering from NTDs.
NTDs are caused by variety of pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi and toxins.
Obidike identified Onchocerciasis, known as River Blindness; Lymphatic Filariasis, also known as Elephantiasis; Schistosomiasis and Soil Transmitted Helminthiasis (STH), as the NTDs endemic in the state.
He described NTDs as preventable communicable diseases prevalent in areas with poor sanitation, inadequate safe water supply and substandard housing conditions.
According to him, the diseases are considered neglected because they enjoy little funding, and are almost absent from the global health agenda and are associated with stigma and social exclusion.
“Over six million individuals in the state are at risk if being infected with one or more types of NTDs and 80 per cent are targeted annually to receive preventive chemotherapy against the diseases.
“In 2020, 1.2 million persons were treated, 3.1 million persons were treated in 2021 and a total of 4,768,342 persons were treated in 2022.
“In partnership with the Carter Centre, 2,867 health workers were trained in 2022, on the detection, treatment, management and prevention of NTDs.
“Today, every prevailing NTDs in the state is currently receiving public health attention,’’ he said.
The Commissioner said that Gov. Chukwuma Soludo’s administration invested in NTDs programmes to scale up sensitisation in endemic communities.
He, however, urged residents to support government’s efforts by sleeping under treated mosquito net, reporting cases of Elephantiasis to nearest health centre and assist in searching of fast flowing rivers for Blackfly control.
Speaking, the Anambra Programme Officer, Carter Centre, Mrs Egeonu Attamah-Isiani, said the centre had been partnering with the state since 1995 to control and eliminate NTDs.
“We have been providing technical and financial supporting to the state, facilitate capacity building, drugs provision and distribution to interrupt NTDs transmission,” she said.
In his remarks, Prof. Dennis Aribodor of Parasitology and Public Health Society of Nigeria, urged the state government to invest and partner with the society in the area of research and data gathering on NTDs. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Dorcas Jonah/Vincent Obi