Nigeria: Lagos to Eradicate Schistosomiasis in Seven Endemic Local Governments

5 December 2019

The Lagos State government said it will commence medical intervention campaign against Schistosomiasis, a neglected tropical disease, which is endemic in seven local government areas of the state.

The Commissioner for Health, Lagos State, Professor Akin Abayomi, who disclosed this during a press briefing in Lagos recently, said the affected local governments are Ikeja, Ifako-Ijaiye, Amuwo-Odofin, Oshodi-Isolo, Agege, Lagos Mainland and Alimosho, adding that health workers will go round schools, homes and other important places to administer on children between ages five and 14 from Monday December 2, to Sunday December 8, 2019.

Abayomi emphasised that parents and guardians should ensure their children and wards eat well before taking the drugs.

He noted that the administration of medicines for control of the disease during the weeklong campaign would be carried out in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health, World Health Organisation (WHO) and Mission to Save the Helpless (MITOSATH).

Answering questions on the cause and mode of transmission, the commissioner explained that Schistosomiasis, also known as snail fever and bilharzia, is a disease caused by parasitic flatworms called schistosomes and acquired when people come into contact with fresh-water infested with the larval forms of flatworms adding that the microscopic adult worms live in the veins draining the urinary tract and intestines.

Abayomi listed symptoms of the disease to include abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloody stool, or blood in the urine with the possibility of death in the case of chronic schistosomiasis.

"To eliminate the disease, interventions in the general hygiene of the environment, nutritional status and strengthening public health systems at both the primary and secondary healthcare level would be deployed", he added.

Abayomi explained that the diseases are generally termed neglected because they tend to be slow chronic diseases that don't force patients to present and do damage slowly.

Earlier, the Executive Director, Mission to Save the Helpless (MITOSATH), Dr Francesca Olamiju, said that the disease commonly affects school-age children who come into contact with it during their daily chores or at play in activities involving freshwater.

She said that from the mapping of the state, seven local government areas were shown to be endemic to schistosomiasis.

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