By SOLA OGUNDIPE
AHEAD of Nigeria’s certification as a guinea worm free nation by the World Health Organisation, WHO, in June 2013, the Federal government is offering a cash reward of N25,000 for every report of authentic new guineaworm cases in any part of the country. In 2011, a N10,000 reward was offered for a similar report.
Nigeria has maintained a zero-case status for 52 months, as there has been no case of gunea worm reported to date in any part of the country.
The last verifiable guineaworm case reported in Nigeria was in November 2008, putting it on target to meet international certification for eradication.
Already, an International Certification Team from the WHO is expected to visit Nigeria as from June for an assessment of the country’s certification drive and to confirm whether the country retains a strong surveillance system to ensure any possible case is caught and reported early.
Disclosing the cash reward initiative in Lagos during a roundtable on Media and Advocacy for guinea worm disease eradication pre-certification activities, Assistant National Coordinator of the National Steering Committee of the Nigeria Guineaworm Eradication Programme, NIGEP, Mr. Babatunde Tokoya, said the reward motive was to sensitise the entire populace about the importance of gunea worm certification.
“Any suspected case of guineaworm disease is to be reported to the nearest health facility and if it is confirmed, the reporter will be given a cash reward of N25,000. All suspected cases can be reported through a toll free line 08001001000,” Tokoya affirmed.
He noted that between 2009 to date there have been 545 rumour cases of guineaworm out of which 21 were recorded between January and March 2013.
“Before Nigeria can be certified guineaworm free, we must meet four distinct criteria. We must have at least 85 percent timely monthly reporting from all health facilities, public and private primary, secondary and tertiary health facilities in the the 774 LGAs across the country. Currently we have attained 57 percent.
Further, he said there must be at least 80 percent monthly reporting from all 774 LGAs in the states. “Currently we are at 83 percent completeness but 51 percent reported timely.
“We must have at least 80 percent monthly reporting from all 774 LGAs and at least 80 per cent of the general public in rural and urban areas knowing about the reward, and all health facility staff at national, State, LGA and health facility level must know about the case definition of guineaworm and appropriate response to the cases. Currently we have attained 32 percent.
“All guineaworm disease rumours must be investigated immediately, within 24 hours of receiving the verbal or written report. Currently we are at 82 percent.
Further, Tokoya said adequate safe water supply and management in villages at risk must be maintained. “Currently we are at 97 percent.
There has been no confirmed case of the disease in Nigeria since the reported 38 cases in 2008, down from over 653,000 cases at the start of Guinea Worm Disease eradication campaign in 1987. Guineaworm eradication efforts, have been pushed by the NIGEP, focusing on surveillance, integrating guinea worm watch into other immunisation programmes and conscious efforts to improve water and sanitation in the 5,879 affected villages identified by NIGEP in 1998.
Member of the Steering Committee, Mr. Buki Ponle, said the roundtable was to discuss, among others, specific roles expected of the media and also to unfold plans for a Media Merit Award which will climax media activities on guineaworm eradication.
Guineaworm is infection with Dracunculus medinensis, a nematode worm. It is caused by drinking water containing water fleas habouring Dracunculus larvae.
There are no drugs for treatment but it can be prevented by protecting water sources and filtering potentially contaminated water.