FG Declares Plateau, Nasarawa Kaduna Free from River Blindness

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River Blindness
  • To clear Zamfara, Kebbi, Oyo and Bauchi

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The Federal Ministry of Health said it had been able to put an end to Onchocerciasis otherwise known as River Blindness in Plateau, Nasarawa and Kaduna States, adding that etomological studies are ongoing to clear Zamfara, Kebbi, Oyo and Bauchi States.

The ministry, in a statement issued by the Deputy Director (Media and Public Relations), Mrs. Ogundoro Modupe, said report of the National Onchocerciasis Elimination Committee (NOEC) indicates the interruption of the disease in Plateau, Nasarawa and Kaduna States, while entomological studies are ongoing to confirm the interruption in Zamfara, Kebbi, Oyo and Bauchi States.

Quoting the Permanent Secretary, in the ministry, Mr. Abdulaziz Mashi Abdullahi, the statement said that the implication of this achievement, is that a total of about 4.2 million persons were no longer in need of mass administration of medicines for onchocerciasis in the endemic local government areas of Plateau, Nasarawa and Kaduna States.

“With these achievements, Plateau, Nasarawa and Kaduna States in Nigeria have joined other countries like Columbia, Ecuador, Guatemala and Mexico in the Americas and Awi Zone in Ethiopia in the interruption of transmission of River blindness,” it said.

The Permanent Secretary explained that nearly all States have maintained a minimum of 65 per cent therapeutic coverage for the last seven years, while overall treatment have risen from about 200,000 persons in 1991 to over 70 million by 2018, including people living in conflicts areas.

According to Abdullahi, results have also shown a reduction of transmission of the disease in other atates.

He said the local governments where transmission of the disease is on-going are conducting a twice – a – year treatment to fast track the elimination of the disease, he added.

He said that sustaining the momentum of the elimination may become more challenging as the clinical manifestation of the disease become increasingly rare.

He assured that as the visual impairment, blindness and severe itching become less and the fatigue of the treatment sets in, innovative communication strategy is being employed to ensure that high coverage is maintained until the disease is eliminated in the Country.

Onchocerciasis is a parasitic disease caused by small worms living in the body. It is transmitted by the bite of a black fly which is the vector for River blindness.

Manifestations of the disease include severe and troublesome itching, hanging groin, thick and rough skin and blindness.