‘Neglected Tropical Diseases Endemic to 11 LGAS in Akwa Ibom’

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Okon Bassey in Uyo

Akwa Ibom State Government yesterday expressed worry over prevalence of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in 11 local government areas of the state.

The state Coordinator of the NTD in the state Ministry of Health, Dr. Aniekeme Uwah, disclosed this while briefing journalists on activities to mark the World NTD Day in state.

He listed the most affected council areas in the state to include Ibeno, Ibiono Ibom, Ika, and Urung.

Uwah, who is also the public relations officer of Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), said many people have been infected by the Neglected Tropical Diseases in the state.

He said four council areas in in the state are endemic to onchcerciasis (River Blindness) with blackfly as the vector; soil transmitted helminthiasisis (intestinal worms) affected in 31 council areas of the state; schistosomiasis or snail fever with water snail as vector, and lymphatic filarisis or elephantiasis which has mosquitoes as the vector.

According to him, the NTDs consisting of about 20 ailments were mainly associated with people from poor home and prevalent in many communities in the tropical regions.

He said: “These are diseases that are commonly found in tropical and sub-tropical parts of the world, and they are closely associated with poverty, poor housing, poor access to portable water supply, poor access to healthcare delivery, and they are not really reported probably because they don’t kill as fast as other diseases like HIV, COVID-19 and many more.

“And apart from that, probably because they affects the world poorest, they don’t get the kind of attention they should get. But unfortunately, these disease conditions are affecting our people.

“We have the high morbidity even though the mortality is relatively low, but they make our people not to live optimally and fulfill their destinies. And very importantly is the fact that this set of diseases is endemic in Akwa Ibom State.

“There are of different types. Some are endemic in all local government areas, some are endemic in about 11 areas while some are endemic in about four local government areas.

“Most times, we drive on the streets and see people with swollen legs or you go to the communities and see people with their swollen scrotum.

“We also have some which led to people having rashes on their skin. And these are rashes that you treat continuously but refuse to heal, which also leads to blindness.

“Most of us have heard of river blindness, which’s spread by blackfly. So these disease conditions are there in our state in about four local government areas.

“The round worms which make the children not to grow optimally and we all know that the brain of the child grows optimally within the first five years of the child’s life.”

Uwah complained that patients of these sicknesses could not receive necessary attention because of their conditions, hence, the intervention of the world agency to ameliorate their health challenges.

He solicited partnership with the media, private sector, entrepreneurs and oil companies to bail out the vulnerable from their conditions.

He said every January 30 has been set aside as world’s NTDs day to create awareness on the neglected tropical diseases for people to know and appreciate that these conditions still exist.