19 February 2013

Nigeria Needs U.S.$300 Million to Address Neglected Tropical Diseases

The Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu, said on Tuesday that over $330 million (N50 billion) was needed for the successful implementation of Nigeria's Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)'s Master Plan.

Mr. Chukwu, while inaugurating the master plan in Abuja, said that this was due to the increasing recognition of the importance of addressing NTDs.

He said that the master plan would serve as a blueprint for massive scale up of activities for the elimination of many tropical diseases.

"The development and launch of this master plan is an indication of the commitment of the present administration to address health issues, reduce poverty and improve quality of life of Nigerians.

"This plan will rely heavily on strong political commitments and partnership supports at all levels, including stakeholders, such as ministries, multi-national corporations, non-governmental organisations," Chukwu said.

He listed some of the ministry's achievements to include elimination of guinea worm and maintenance of four consecutive years of zero-case reporting, interruption of onchocerciasis transmission and lymphatic filariasis transmission.

He said the country had attained the "WHO elimination target of less than one case per 10,000 populations for leprosy with successful multi-drug therapy (MDT) since 1996."

Also, the Minister of State for Health, Muhammad Pate, said that NTDs were major causes of poverty in Sub-Sahara Africa.

Mr. Pate said that addressing the NTDs was in line with Nigeria's "Saving One Million Lives Initiative."

"The Nigeria NTDs Master-Plan represents our renewed efforts to focus on health outcomes and results by working toward the control, elimination and eradication," he said.

The WHO Country Representative to Nigeria, Rui Gamavaz, said that the neglected tropical diseases affected an estimated one billion people in the world.

Mr. Gamavaz added that up to 90 per cent of the total disease burden occurred in Africa.

"Some people are even affected with more than one NTD, causing disfigurement and disability and account for an estimated half a million global deaths annually.

"The diseases perpetuate the cycle of poverty and cause stigma in communities," he said.

About 13 of the 17 NTDs recognised by WHO are found to be most common in Nigeria.

They include soil transmitted helminthes, lymphatic lariasis, onchocerciasis, dracunculiasis, and schistosomiasis, dengue fever, human African trypanosomiasis, Buruli ulcer, leprosy and trachoma. (NAN)

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