The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Pate, Tuesday, sought collaboration with the Ministries of Agriculture and Food Security and Water Resources and Sanitation to combat Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), across the country.
Pate made the call during the commemoration of the 2024 edition of the World Neglected Tropical Diseases in Abuja with the theme ‘Unite, Act, Eliminate Neglected Tropical Diseases’.
Being represented by the Director of Public Health, Dr. Chukwuma Anyaike, he said the NTDs affect an estimated 1.6 billion people worldwide, majority of whom live in developing countries.
He said “Nigeria is laden with 25 percent of about all NTDs in Africa, with millions of persons at risk of infections with some NTDs as Lymphatic Filariasis-122 million, Onchocerciasis– 33 million, Schistosomiasis– 20.8 million, Soil Transmitted Helminths– 29.4 million, Trachoma– 5.3 million and Human African Trypanosomiasis– 6.5 million people respectively.
“NTDs are also found in several countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America and are especially common in tropical areas, where people do not have access to clean water or safe waste disposal.
“Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services are therefore essential for NTDs control and elimination which must be promoted in Nigeria. We have created a WASH-NTDS unit within the Programme to achieve this.
“The significance of the World NTDs Day is to renew global and national awareness to address the magnitude of NTDs problem, provide opportunities for stakeholders to highlight the progress made, challenges encountered and advocate support for prevention, control and elimination effort.
“Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation should help us with sanitation, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security should help us to make sure the food we eat is basic.
“We are also calling on the private sector, civil society to make sure we end the menace of NTDs in the country. This is a public health issue so it cuts across the sectors.
“The theme of the campaign for 2024 World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day (WNTDD) is ‘Unite, Act, Eliminate Neglected Tropical Diseases’ is appropriate now when progress towards the 2030 targets must be kept on track with innovative ideas, sustainable financing and strengthening awareness creation and public sensitization.
“Therefore, we all need to be united in our action to eliminate the Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs).
“Today’s event also provides an opportunity to re-energize the momentum to end the suffering from these 20 diseases caused by a variety of pathogens, viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi and toxins.
“We shall focus attention on millions of people with little or no access to prevention, treatment and care services to counter the social determinants of health in line with the renewed hope agenda of the current administration.
“The roll out of the 10 years NTDs road map for 2021-2030 by the World Health Organization (WHO) on the 28th of January 2021 proposed ambitious targets and innovative approaches to tackle NTDs and provides a blueprint and direction to global elimination.
“The plan promotes an integrated approach to deliver programmes with emphasis on three significant approaches: moving from process to impact measuring for accountability, putting in place effective multi-sectoral approach/integration across NTDs, country ownership and political commitment for sustainability.
“We are proud to say that Nigeria is one the few countries that have developed/reviewed its NTD Masterplan 2023 – 2027 which was launched in January 2023 and being used as an advocacy tool at home and abroad by all stakeholders towards the attainment of 2030 target.”
However, he (Pate) pointed out major achievements including: Weaning of 29 million people of ivermectin treatment in 10 transmission zones (States) in the country; Elimination of Onchocerciasis in two States (Plateau, Nasarawa) and interruption of transmission in additional eight States (Kaduna, Kebbi, Zamfara, Delta, Imo, Abia, Enugu, Anambra); About 39.5million people across 20 States and FCT no longer require LF treatment; Eradication of Guinea Worm disease in 2013, and others.
“Despite these modest achievements, NTDs has been on the back burner, with little or no attention to implementation of plans to reduce poverty and improve the wellbeing of sufferers, as a result of inadequate funding support and security threat in few areas.
“It is important to note that the control and elimination of the NTDs in Nigeria will contribute significantly towards the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 3 as well as poverty reduction, therefore all hands must be on the deck to achieve this,” he added.