Neglected Tropical Diseases not deserted, Government collaborates with WHO to create awareness
Abuja, 05 January 2020 - Mr Emmanuel Kewe, a 27-year-old man says, "I did not know that these diseases can be found in my community, this very one with open wounds (Buruli Ulcer) that I'm seeing on this picture is exactly what my neighbor is battling with.
We thought it was a spiritual attack, he has visited several traditional healers with no relief and we did not know that doctors could have a solution to it, but now I know." He stated in Pidgin English with relief", Mr Kewe explains.
He was one of the targeted people during an awareness creation 'Walk', organized as part of the commemoration of the maiden, "Neglected Tropical Disease's Day" on 30 January 2020, with the theme, "BeatNTDs: For Good, For all."
Several stakeholders from Abuja, including Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) officials as well as implementing partners participated in a 5 Kilometer road Walk through the streets of Abuja, during which, passersby received handbills, providing education on NTDs. A number of persons stopped the distributors to request additional information, indicating interest in one or more of the diseases identified on the fliers.
Also speaking during a Press briefing in a drive to engage journalists, Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire stated that, "We are glad that the world is poised to celebrating this activity. We will support yearly commemoration and support coordination of NTD activities. The Minister however asses that, "The NTD community should focus on research and management for those who have long term morbidities"
Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) threaten more than 1.5 billion people living in the poorest and most marginalized communities worldwide. These diseases blind, disable and disfigure people, 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.
Nigeria accounts for over 40% of the burden of NTDs in Africa. Due to the deep-rooted poverty in majority of the population, about 60 million Nigerians are at risk of contracting NTDs or already have untreated cases of at least one NTDs.15 of the 20 NTDs recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) have their abode in Nigeria. Notable ones include; Blinding Trachoma, Buruli ulcer, Human African Trypanosomiasis, Dengue fever, Schistosomiasis, Lymphatic Filariasis, Onchocerciasis, Leprosy and Soil transmitted helminthes.
Since 2012, 31 countries have eliminated at least one NTD. Although, Nigeria has made significant progress, some implementation targets are yet to be reached or have only received suboptimal coverages.
In a separate even to mark the NTD's Day, Dr Clement Peter, WHO Nigeria Officer in Charge said, "NTDs, unfortunately has lower awareness and visibility in most endemic communities. At this instance, we should encourage sustained awareness creation on regular basis and not rely on the once yearly NTD day. We should particularly target reduction of discrimination in all aspects for NTDs."
Providing treatment in endemic communities to populations for prevention can save group of persons from being infected by any of the NTDs, however, for those already infected, treatment can also alleviate and control the spread of the disease.
Dr Rex Mpazanje; Email: mpanzanjerjeana [at] who.int (@who.int); Tel: +234 803 960 0874
Dr Aliyu Suleiman; Email: suleimana [at] who.int; Tel: +234 814 785 6378