Abia Targets Two Neglected Tropical Diseases for Elimination in 2022

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Emmanuel Ugwu, Umuahia

The Abia State government has said that by 2022 , it would eliminate lymphatic filariaisis and soil transmitted helminthes in all the 17 local governments of the state as part of efforts to control the neglected tropical diseases (NTD).

The Permanent Secretary, Abia State Ministry of Health, Mr. Emole Egbulefu, made this known while briefing journalists on the state’s NTD programmes to mark the inaugural World Day of Neglected Tropical Diseases.

He said that Abia State NTD programme has “recorded tremendous achievements in the control of the diseases through the support of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu and wife, Nkechi”.

According to him, Abia has every reason to celebrate its “hard earned progress in the area of controlling the scourge of the diseases in the state”.

He solicited for the support of NGOs, CSOs and the general public in the annual distribution of Mectizan and Albendazole in the various Abia communities in order to achieve the elimination target of the diseases.

Egbulefu listed the prevalent NTDs in Abia to include river blindness, lymphatic filariaisis (swelling of the hands and legs of women and hydrocele or scrotal enlargement in men), soil transmitted helminthes and schistosomiaisis.

He said: “About three million persons are at risk of one or all these diseases in the state,” adding that “populations living in poverty, without adequate sanitation and in close contact with infectious vectors and animals are mostly at risk”.

The permanent secretary stated that the state government has been fighting these diseases since 2009 in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and the Carter Center Nigeria.

He revealed that since 2015, about 2.8 million persons across the 17 local governments were treated with Mectizan and Albendazole every year for the control of river blindness, soil transmitted helminthiasis and lymphatic filariaisis.

Egbulefu further stated that last year, about 7.8 million tabs of Mectizan and 2.8 million tabs of Albendazole were distributed in Abia with the active support of the Carter Center Nigeria.

In his remarks the state director of public health, Dr Onyechere Nwokocha said that it was necessary to disabuse the minds of people about the nature of NTDs, saying that “these diseases are physical and not spiritual.”

The state NTD manager, Solomon Of or explained that the state programme on the NTDs was designed for prevention, killing off the worms of the vectors and interrupting the spread of the diseases.