By Joseph Erunke, ABUJA
Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, on Monday, said Nigeria has about 25 per cent of all Neglected Tropical Diseases, NTDs, in Africa.
The minister, who said this at a ministerial press briefing held to mark the 2023 World Neglected Tropical Disease Day in Abuja, noted that in the colonial era, the highest NTD rates were in Egypt and Yemen, with a significant number also in Iran and Algeria.
He said the country was particularly interested in Neglected Tropical Diseases because they are a group of communicable and non-communicable diseases occurring mostly in isolated areas of developing countries with poor sanitation and nutritional status, unsafe water supply, substandard living conditions and low level of education.
“Nigeria has about 25% of all NTDs in Africa, with millions of persons at risk: Lymphatic Filariasis-122 million, Onchocerciasis- 33 million, Schistosomiasis- 20.8 million, Soil Transmitted Helminths- 29.4 million, Trachoma- 5.3 million and Human African Trypanosomiasis- 6.5 million people respectively.
“In the colonial era, the highest NTD rates were in Egypt and Yemen, with a significant number also in Iran and Algeria. It is now accepted that addressing social determinants of health like Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) inadequacies is essential for NTD control and elimination. This must be promoted in Nigeria,” he said.
He explained that” The significance of the World NTD Day is to renew global and national awareness of the magnitude of NTDs and also present opportunities to highlight progress made, challenges met, policy direction and advocate support for prevention, control, and elimination efforts.’
Speaking further at the event with the theme: “Act now. Act together. Invest in Neglected Tropical Diseases”, Ehanire reiterated government’s to lead the country to meet sustainable global health targets I’m 2030 with innovative and sustainable financing.
“The NTD also re-energizes the momentum to end the suffering from these 20 diseases, caused by a variety of pathogens, viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi and toxins etc.
“We shall focus on the millions of people with little or no access to prevention, treatment and care, in the rollout of the 10-year NTD road map for 2021-2030 by World Health Organization (WHO) on 28th of January 2021, proposed ambitious targets and the innovative approaches to tackle NTDs and provide blueprint and direction to global elimination,” he added.
The minister spoke further:”The global commemoration of the 2023 iteration of the “Neglected Tropical Diseases” (NTDs), the 4th such event in Nigeria, following the established global trend.
“Nigeria is particularly interested in Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), because they are a group of communicable and non-communicable diseases occurring mostly in isolated areas of developing countries with poor sanitation and nutritional status, unsafe water supply, substandard living conditions and low level of education.
“Though sufferers may be many, the diseases are still “neglected” because they are almost absent from the global health agenda and are associated with stigma and social exclusion.
“Neglecting the population also helps perpetuate the cycle of poverty and limited access to professional opportunities.”
According to him,” NTDs include diseases like Lymphatic Filariasis, Onchocerciasis, Schistosomiasis, Soil Transmitted Helminthes, Buruli Ulcers, Leishmaniasis, Dengue, Guinea Worm Disease, Trachoma, Leprosy, Rabies, Noma, Yaws, Mycetoma. “
“Snakebites are included because they are also prevalent in poor communities, especially as occupational hazard to farmers and herders,”he added.
He added that,”Most NTDs are of public health importance, as they impact negatively on socio-economic development and affect an estimated one billion people worldwide, mostly Tropical areas of low-income in Africa, Asia and Latin America.”
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