By Sola Ogundipe

NIGERIANS have been urged to take deliberate measures to prevent infection and transmission of Neglected Tropical Diseases, NTDs, that currently affect about 1 billion persons across the world.

Making the call in Lagos Chairperson of the National Steering Committee on NTDs, Professor Adenike Abiose, said Nigeria’s commitment to eliminating NTDs remained unshakeable, despite having the highest burden for the diseases.

Nigeria  accounts for 25 per cent of the 7 major NTDs in sub-Saharan Africa, and has the  largest burden in the Africa.

The major NTDs include  Schistosomiasis, Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis, STH, Onchocerciasis, Lymphatic Filariasis (Elephantiasis), Leprosy and Trachoma.

“We have a method of tracking the medication for treatment  right down to the individual at the community level.

“Part of what we are doing at this meeting for Neglected Tropical Diseases is to see how the State governments working with the local governments,  communities and various partners, to ensure that  medicines  donated free of charge to treat these diseases get to the people who need them at community level. There has to feedback.”

According to Abiose: “We are not looking at elimination in an individual but in the population because treatment is for the individual but elimination is for the whole community and country ultimately.”

On measures that can be taken immediately, Abiose said medicines are donated from the Federal level to the State level and down to the community level to ensure that the diseases are prevented.

According to COUNTDOWN Country Director, Sunday Isiyaku,  year 2020/2025 has been earmarked for  elimination of NTDs in Nigeria.

Kaduna and Ogun states were selected for the programme based on their differing phases of NTD control as well as to achieve variation in socio-demographic and geographic contexts.

According to the Director,/Head, NTDs FMOH, Ifeoma Anagbogu, the elimination of the NTDs as a public health problem is a task the government set for itself.

“We are committed through collaboration with the partners in innovative ways to fast-tracking attainment of this target through implementation research.  The first key activity for COUNTDOWN is an extensive data collection and analysis exercise which will consider past and present economic, social and technological data. This will help identify internal and external structures that influence the performance of the local government areas’ NTD programmes.

“Our aim is to assist in the scale-up of and optimisation of current and future interventions against NTDs,” said Prof. Russ Stothard, Director of the COUNTDOWN programme.

“This is with a mission is to reduce significantly the suffering of those with disability and disease. By fostering and developing effective actions across the health systems in sub-Saharan Africa, and seek to end this NTD pandemic.”

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