Kwara Government has decried high prevalence of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in the country, saying over 120 million Nigerians are at risk of the communicable infections.
The Kwara Commissioner for Health, Dr Raji Razak, stated this on Thursday in Ilorin at a news conference organised to commemorate the World NTDs Day, with the Theme “Beat NTDs for good, for all”.
Razak said at the event jointly organised by the Kwara State Ministry of Health and Sightsavers NGO that globally over 1.5 billion people are at risk of the communicable diseases.
NTDs are a diverse group of tropical communicable diseases which are common in low-income populations in developing regions of Africa, Asia, and the Americas.
They are caused by a variety of pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, protozoa and helminths.
Razak observed that the NTDs had been identified as major public health problems not only in Kwara but the world at large.
“NTDs threaten more than 1.5 billion people living in the poorest and most marginalised communities worldwide.
“That disease is associated with disability and disfiguration, taking away not only their health but also their chances of staying in school, earning a living or even being accepted by their family or community,” he said.
The commissioner listed some of the NTDs to include River blindness, Schistosomiasis, Soul Transmitted Helminths, Leprosy and Lymphatic filariasis among others.
He explained that these diseases were of public health importance that affected many people in the country.
Razak said government had treated more than two million people which included school-age children to adults across the 16 local government area of the state.
“We are reaching more people with NTDs treatment than ever before. In Kwara, we have distributed drugs such as Mectizan, Albendazole, Praziquantel and Mebendazole to combat these diseases.
“We have also carried out free surgical operations on 210 patients with hydrocele.
Razak also disclosed that patients with lymphoedema and elephantiasis were being managed across the three senatorial districts of the state.
He pledged that the state government would give support in the area of improved water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), reversing the cycle of poverty and saying no to stigmatization, among others.
Mr Funsho Oyinloye, the State Coordinator of NTDs, Kwara Ministry of Health, described NTDs as diseases that are neglected but ravage the body and decrease people’s health and reduce chances for life.
According to him, these diseases reduce capacity to productive life, while also reduce life span.
He said that the government at all levels should also accord importance to NTDs in Nigeria, adding that the government should not see it as a simple disease.
Oyinloye warned that the disease could also kill, just like any other, stressing that local knowledge and awareness were critical components to drive the control and elimination of NTDs.
The state coordinator disclosed that in 2019, about five million tablets were given, for both curative and preventive measures while over 1.2 million people were treated in the state.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that some of the activities to mark the World NTDs day includes awareness campaign across Ilorin metropolis, road walks, jingles as well as free fixed point treatment of NTDs.