By Tosin Kolade
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has called on state governments to invest in the prevention, control and eradication of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) among their populace.
The UNICEF Water Sanitation and Hygiene Specialist, Mr Bioye Ogunjobi, made this call at the monthly meeting of the National Task Group on Sanitation on Wednesday in Abuja.
He noted that the commonest of these diseases which are Onchocerciasis, Trachoma, Lympatic Filariasis, schistosomiasis and soil transmitted helminthes are mostly found among the poorest of the poor in all the 36 states of the federation.
He said the UN agency was supporting 12 states in Nigeria for NTDs control interventions across the South West, South-South, North West, North East and North Central and most of these states require further support by the government.
“Most tiers of government do not invest in NTDs, we want them to invest in NTD control interventions, because these are diseases that are affecting the vulnerable in their states.
“We also want policy makers to bring funds into NTDs control in Nigeria,’’ he said.
The WASH Specialist hinted that UNICEF with support from USAID, has begun a new Integrated-WASH project aimed at scaling up access to water and sanitation in nine local government areas of Kebbi, Zamfara and Sokoto states.
He noted that in partnership with the Federal Government, UNICEF was spearheading a `Sanitation pool fund’ where matching funds would be given through microfinance institutions.
“The project will take off in August in Adamawa and Bauchi states and will create access to loans by households as well as Small and medium entrepreneurs to support toilet construction in those two states.
`The Sanitation pool fund are matching funds from UNICEF and the state government to provide loans through microfinance institutions to households to build toilets and support the Clean Nigeria Campaign,’’ he said.
Ogunjobi added that many states had made commitments to accelerate open defecation free initiatives, expressing optimism that 30 more local government areas could be declared open defecation free by the end of 2021 through UNICEF Supported interventions across 14 states.
The National Task Group on Sanitation (NTGS) is a stakeholders’ forum that is concerned with the coordination of water and sanitation activities in Nigeria.
The Task group focuses on the attainment the SDG:-6 to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that NTDs are especially common in tropical areas where people do not have access to clean water or safe ways to dispose of human waste.
More examples of NTDs are; leprosy, hookworm, guinea-worm disease, among others. (NAN)