By Nwafor Okafor
The Anambra State Commissioner for Health,Dr. Vincent Okpala, has said over five million residents in the state are at risk of being infected with Neglected Tropical Diseases
The ailments which are water-associated infectious diseases
include elephantiasis, river blindness, Schistosomiasis, Soil-Transmitted Helminthes , eyelid infection.
The Commissioner asked communities in the state to assist in identifying fast-flowing rivers and streams for blackfly control, and encouraged residents to sleep inside mosquito bed nets to prevent mosquito vector from transmitting Lymphatic Filariasis and Malaria diseases.
He advised residents, especially, the rural dwellers, to go and receive their Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) drugs from their Community Directed Distributors (CDDs). in their various Communities, or visit any Government Health Facilities to take their medicines.
Okpala, who disclosed this at a press briefing in his office in Awka, at a press briefing to mark the 2022 World NTD’s Day, equally advise the general public to report any case of Elephantiasis of limb breast, hydrocele, dog bite, snake bite to the nearest health centre across the state.
According to him, the world was currently battling with challenges of Global Warming, Migration and Population Explosion which encourage fast spreading of public health diseases that wereneglected due to inadequate awareness locally and internationally.
He said, “This condition is so because these diseases are linked with poverty and equity of health that is not assured. Nigeria has the Africa’s biggest burden of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) with about nine of them already mapped and under intervention including: Onchocerciasis (River Blindness), Lymphatic Filariasis, Schistosomiasis, Soil Transmitted Helminthes, Trachoma, Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT), Buruli Ulcer, Leprosy.
He said onchocerciasis was world second leading infectious cause of blindness in 36 Countries of Africa, Arabian Penisula and the Americans, adding,” Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are preventable communicable diseases prevalent in areas with poor sanitation, inadequate safe water supply and sub-standard housing conditions. WHO has classified 20 tropical diseases neglected, and they really need attention.
“WHO has 5 Road Maps for NTDs elimination: (1) Use of Preventive Thermotherapy (PC – NTDs) for Mass Treatment. (2) Innovative Disease Management (IDM – NTDs). (3) Vectors and Intermediate Hosts Control and Management. (4) Integration of Water Sanitation and Hygiene (NTD – WASH) Component. (5) Control of Zoonotic Diseases at Human and Animal Interface, he explained.
Okpala said the Neglected Tropical Diseases Programme in the Public Health Department of the State Ministry of Health has the mandate to control and eliminate the endemic neglected diseases which are currently posing significant health challenges in various Communities of Anambra State, where over five million individuals are at risk of being infected with one or more diseases.
He however noted that the undiluted effort of the Implementing Partner, The Carter Center during the intervention period cannot be over emphasized. We will always be grateful for what they are doing, he praise.
He said the state’s NTD Programme in collaboration with implementing Partners targets to control, eliminate the following endemic NTDs: Onchocerciasis (River Blindness), Schistosomiaisis (SCH), Lymphatic Filariasis (LF), Soil Transmitted Helminthiasis (STH), Rabies Viral Infection (NTD Zoonosis) and Snake Bite Envenoming (EchiTAB).
While commending the state governor, Willie Obiano for his provisions in making NTDs Programme achieve numerous successes in the State, the Commissioner, informed that about four major NTDs are endemic in Anambra State, and every LGA is affected by one or more Diseases (Onchocerciasis, Lymphatic Filariasis, Schistosomiasis, Soil-Transmittedelminthiasis.
This year’s 2022 theme is, “Achieving Health Equity To End The Neglect Of Poverty Related Diseases”