Only Multi-Sectoral Approach Will Eliminate Neglected Tropical Diseases-FGN

By: Prudence Okonna

The Federal Government of Nigeria has said only a multi-sectoral approach can eliminate Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) that can meet up with the 2030 target endorsed by the World Health Assembly.

This was revealed during a community outreach to a Local Education Authourity (LEA) Primary School Dururmi 1, organized by the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) in partnership with Public Health Department, Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) among other development Partners, as part of activities to leading up to the World NTDs Day 2023, commemorated annually on the 30 January.

The National Coordinator, NTDs, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Nse Akpan, while speaking at the outreach said, the FMOH can only champion the target road map but needed every other sector to key into it to have a speedy outcome. He explained that the goal is to reduce morbidity and mortality as well as ensure that every child is properly dewormed so that they can go back to school.

In his words, “we want every sector to be a key player in eliminating these diseases. The press has a role to play in educating the public. In the Education sector just as we have collaborated to be in this school today, the Ministry of Water Resources has a role to play by ensuring water supply, and the Ministry of Environment as well, and by ensuring that the environment is clean. It should be a multisector approach, health is on the concurrent list and it affects everybody.”

Akpan noted that through strategies of sensitization and mass drug administration carried out across the country, they have been able to eliminate NTDs in some states while in some others; there is a significant reduction in the burden.

Coordinator, NTDs Unit Publuc Health Department, FCTA, Eunice Ogundipe said the sensitization was important in educating the pupil and revealed that through Community Directed Distributors,(CDD) they are able to administer the medicines free of charge to different communities across the six area councils.

The Coordinator while aligning with the NTDs theme for 2023,” Act now, Act together, invest in Neglected Tropical Diseases “said it is only by awareness creation that communities can buy into the program. She emphasized that this awareness can only work if the communities own the program and participate fully in the program.

Ogundipe however lamented inadequate funding as well as bias in the distribution of the medicines by the CDDs as some of the challenges experienced in the course of their jobs.

The head teacher of LEA Primary School, Durumi 1, Helen Adejayan while appreciating the visit called on the government to provide more sanitation facilities as well as food for the children to learn in a more conducive environment.

As part of efforts to educate the pupils, FMOH massively administered medicines; Praziquantel for the treatment of Schistosomiasis and Menbezol tablets for the treatment of Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis; two NTDs which mostly affect children.

Neglected Tropical Diseases are twenty viral, bacterial, and parasitic diseases identified by the World Health Assembly (WHA) which mostly affect poor people in Southeast Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and the Caribbean because of water and sanitation deficiencies.