On neglected tropical diseases in Nigeria, just look at the screaming headlines:

Nigeria accounts for 25% of Africa’s neglected tropical diseases burden- World Health Organisation. Thisday

Nigeria needs $300million to address neglected tropical diseases- Premium times

1 billion people treated for NTDs in 2015-World Health Organisation:Voice of Nigeria

Nigeria is committed to eliminating neglected tropical diseases- Prof Adenike Abiose

World leaders recommit to ending neglected tropical diseases -daily times

Now what are neglected tropical diseases?

  • Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are a group of severe disabling and disfiguring conditions that occur mostly in settings of extreme poverty, especially among poor rural and some disadvantaged urban populations.
  • Although these diseases affect the world’s poorest and most vulnerable populations and drive people even deeper into poverty, global and national responses to NTDs have been inexcusably lax.
  • NTDs are responsible for 534,000 global deaths yearly.
  • Though endemic, much attention is not paid to them and yearly budgets for neglected tropical diseases are very marginal.
  • Instead of being neglected, these devastating diseases should be at the top of health agendas in every affected country.
  • Nigeria carries the greatest burden and diversity of NTDs in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Nigeria has the greatest number of lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis cases in Africa, and the largest number of schistosomiasis cases globally.
  • Of the 17 WHO-recognized NTDs, 13 are endemic in Nigeria
  • In March,2012, Nigeria developed an integrated multi-year national plan for the control and elimination of the NTDs in the country.
  • The plan, to serve as a blueprint for massive scale up of activities for the elimination of several NTDs by 2020, was launched on 19th February, 2013
  • The development of this master plan was a collaborative effort of all partners from their areas of comparative advantage.
  • The partners in health have supported Nigeria over the years and have participated in the development of this master plan.
  • It is envisaged that they would support the implementation of activities and build structures that would ensure sustainability.

List of neglected tropical diseases in Nigeria

  • The plan covers 10 of the NTDs viz
  1. Lymphatic filariasis.
  2. Onchocerciasis.
  3. Dracunculiasis.
  4. Schistosomiasis.
  5. Human African trypanosomiasis.
  6. Leishmaniasis.
  7. Buruli ulcer.
  8. Leprosy.
  9. Trachoma.
  10. Rabies
  • Nigeria is acting in concert with a broad group of national and global partners who are committed to sparing people from these terrible diseases.
  • Nigeria is working with partners such as the WHO, the United Kingdom’s DFID, the USAID, and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation to obtain technical support and secure necessary funding.
  • Nigeria has made progress in recent years, notably by eliminating guinea worm. This was certified by the WHO on December 23rd, 2013.
  • The Federal and State governments have also launched community education programmes and bolstered drug distribution, which has led to improvements in the control of other NTDs, notably leprosy.
  • There are ongoing control programmes for onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminthiases, guinea worm, and Human African trypanosomiasis.
  • However, these efforts have been stalled by a persistent funding gap and imperfect national coordination.

Combating neglected tropical diseases in Nigeria

To curb this menace, all hands must be on deck. The federal, state, and local governments, private individuals, non-governmental organisations, religious organisations has a role to play in combating NTDs in Nigeria.

  • Internal and external funding of the individual control programmes, as well as funding of the integrated master plan should be improved and sustained.
  • Massive enlightenment campaigns on NTDs
  • More attention should be paid to the role of the public in responding to these new programmes.
  • The public should be treated as partners, not as passive recipients.
  • More effective use should be made of Nigeria’s wealth of experts.
  • People in endemic areas should be properly educated on preventive measures.
  • Distribution of drugs and other curative services should be community directed.
  • Early diagnosis and prompt treatment of diseases.
  • As these diseases comes with poverty, provision of basic amenities like safe water and economic empowerment is key.
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patient with filarisis. Credit: carter foundation
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lady with elephantiasis. Credit: carter center
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trachoma caused by flies. Credit: medical ecology

See the various harmful cultural practices in Nigeria we need to stop here.

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