N154billion needed to eliminate Neglected Tropical Diseases in Nigeria- Official

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Poor funding has been blamed for the country’s inability to eliminate Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs).

The health official noted that about 122 million persons in Nigeria are at risk of getting infected with NTDs.

This was made known by the National Coordinator of Neglected Tropical Diseases Control /Elimination/Eradication Programme at the Federal Ministry of Health, Chukwuma Anyaike during a media dialogue organised the Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB) Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

NTDs are communicable diseases associated with poverty and commonly found in rural communities with unsafe water sources, substandard housing conditions and poor sanitation.

Some of the diseases include Lymphatic Filariasis ( Elephantiasis), Soil Transmitted Helminthiasis (STH), Onchocerciasis (River blindness), Trachoma (Granular Conjuctivitis) and Schistosomiasis (Bilharzia).

Anyaike explained that Nigeria has not been able to control and eradicate NTDs due to poor funding, misinformation, and myths surrounding the diseases.

Nigeria he said needs about N154 billion to control and eventually eliminate Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in Nigeria.

Anyaike while quoting the 2016-2020 NTD Strategic Plan said at least $400 million (N154 billion) is needed to completely eradicate NTDs in the country.

He said about 1.5 billion people are already affected by NTDs globally and Africa contributes not less than 40 percent of the global burden of NTDs.

He said almost all the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) are affected by NTDs.

“The challenges of the diseases are poor funding, lack of information while some people have wrong ideas about the disease and also dirty environment.

“There should be enhanced planning for results resources, mobilisation and financial sustainability of national NTDs programme,’’ Anyaike said.

He stressed the need to create strategies that will help in the control of NTDs in the country.

Although NTDs are common infections, they have received inadequate attention from both local and international health agencies in decades.

In her opening remarks, the head of CRIB, Mercy Megwa observed that the high burden of NTDs in the country calls for concern even though Nigeria has been certified Guinea worm-free.

She noted that these diseases are very dangerous and can cause disability and affect children’s intellectual development and growth.

She said the dialogue was necessary to examine the diseases critically and work out modalities that will help to control and eliminate them.

She urged the media to disseminate accurate information to reduce the incidence of the disease.

“NTDs keep children out of school and limit the potentials of parents. There have been so much wrong information in the communities.

“I charge the media to work assiduously to help eliminate these diseases in the communities,” she said.

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