By Sola Ogundipe
AS Nigeria seeks an end to the burden of Neglected Tropical Diseases, NTDs, the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, says an estimated N100 million is required annually to eradicate the seven major NTDs in the country. Adewole spoke last week at the launch of the Expanded Special Project for Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases, ESPEN, by the World Health Organization, WHO, Regional Office for Africa, AFRO, at the opening of the 69th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.
In a chat with Good health Weekly, the Minster said Nigeria is a major player. “We habour about 25 percent of the the burden of NTDs in Africa and the international community believes that if Nigeria can get it right to wipe off this group of diseases, then it will be safer for Africa and the world and all of us.” “We have created a budget line for the first time for it, though the allocation is small, but we will do better next year.
What we plan to do in Nigeria is to mainstream all activities for the control of NTDs ino existing programmes. “We will deliver services through the Primary Health Centres, to reach at least 80 percent of our people over the next two years. He said the 69th WHA was an opportunity to renew Nigeria’s commitment and encourage the leadership to get NTDs under control.
“I called on other African health ministers to join me in the campaign. Doing so will require a multidisciplinary approach because those NTDs are diseasesof poverty, either because people do not have good water or do hot have good food or they have food contaminated by faeces. So we can link everything to poverty, poor living conditions, lack of water, and lack of good living hygiene.”
There are seven major NTDs. We have wiped off guineaworm in Nigeria, The drugs are given to us free of charge which is good for us, the We need the correct tools to handle any disease. We also need data. Data will tell us the burden of the problem and whether we are succeeding.
What we are planning to do in the context of the health sector, is to change how we measure success. We want to be able to k now how m any people have been treated and cured or restored. ESPEN will run from 2016 to 2020 and will work towards the control and elimination targets established by WHO and endorsed by the London declaration of 2012 on NTDs