Controlling NTDs will contribute significantly to SDGs, reduce poverty — FG

The Federal Government has said the control and elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), will contribute significantly towards the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 3 as well as poverty reduction in Nigeria

The Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof Muhammad Ali Pate at the Ministerial press briefing of NTDs in Abuja said, despite modest achievements, NTDs have 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.

Pate who was represented by the Director of Public Health, Dr Chukwuma Anyaike, disclosed that “NTDs affect 1.6 billion people globally, with the majority of them in developing countries.

He, however, noted that substantial progress has been made over the last decade, as evidenced by some major achievements highlighted.

“Another achievement is the weaning of 29 million people off ivermectin treatment in 10 transmission states in the country and elimination of onchocerciasis in Plateau and Nasarawa states.

“Also, the interruption of transmission in Kaduna, Kebbi, Zamfara, Delta, Imo, Abia, Enugu, Anambra states.”

Mr Pate said at least 39.5 million people across 20 states and Abuja no longer need lymphatic filariasis treatment, which reduces prevalence in the at-risk population of trachoma infection by 84 per cent.

“A total of 106 of 126 endemic local government areas for trachoma in the country have stopped treatment and have also attained elimination threshold for the active stage of the disease, while 91 areas have attained elimination threshold for the blinding stage of the disease.

“At inception, about 30 million persons were at risk of going blind from trachoma, but the risk has now been brought down significantly to about 3.5 million,” the minister explained.

He, therefore, urged the media and other stakeholders to continue to support and contribute toward NTD elimination to enable Nigeria to achieve the 2030 SDGs target.

The UCN Cluster Lead and AMR Expert, World Health Organisation (WHO), Laxmikant Chavan, while reiterating commitment to NTDs elimination, commended the federal government for the progress achieved.

He said, “Let me appreciate Nigeria’s efforts and achievements. Nigeria has actually provided the medicines for mass drug administration and treatment of NTDs.

“More than 20 million Nigerians now don’t need any mass drug administration. That means they are free from the NTDs, and that’s a big achievement.”

Also, the Assistant Director of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Tracking, Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation, Joseph Adeyemi stressed the need for stakeholders to unite in eliminating NTDs in totality.

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