By Asmau Ahmad with agency report
Health agencies in Bauchi, Gombe and Jigawa states have announced plans to distribute over two million doses of drugs to stem spread of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs).
The states also scaled up sensitisation activities and trained health personnel to enhance surveillance, detection and treatment of the disease.
The health officials stated this in separate interviews while responding to a survey on NTDs by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in Bauchi, Dutse and Gombe.
According to Wikipedia, NTDs are a diverse group of tropical infections that are common in low-income populations in developing regions of Africa, Asia, and the Americas.
They are cause by a variety of pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and parasitic worms (helminths).
These diseases are contrasted with the infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
In sub-Saharan Africa, the effect of neglected tropical diseases as a group is comparable to that of malaria and tuberculosis.
Dr Ashiru Abdurrahman, Coordinator, NTDs and Eye Care, Jigawa State Ministry of Health, listed Onchocerciasis, Lymphatic Fillarasis, Soil Transmitted Helmentis, Trachoma and Schistosomiasis, as the five common NTDs.
To control the disease, the Bauchi government has concluded arrangements to distribute 1.9 million doses of drug to curb the disease in the state.
Mr Dahiru Mahmoud, Director, Diseases Control, Bauchi State Healthcare Development Agency, said the agency would distribute 1.9 million doses of drugs to children from two to 18 years.
“We also embark on sensitisation to promote of hygiene and sanitation in the society,” he said.
In the same vein, about 441 health workers had been trained on detection and treatment of NTDs across 11 LGAs of Gombe State.
Coordinator of NTDs in the state’s Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Abubakar Aliyu said personnel would screens suspected cases to enhance detection and treatment of the diseases.
According to Aliyu, Onchocerciasis, Lymphatic Filariasis, Schistosomiasis, and Trachoma are more prevalent in the state.
He said Onchocerciasis disease is spread through repeated bites by infected black flies, adding that the disease is common in farming communities who predominantly engaged in farming activities.
“Tablets are being distributed according to the person’s height; the drug distribution is a preventive measure in the endemic communities.
“Drugs for treatment of Lymphatic Filariasis, commonly known as Elephantiasis are also distributed, and those with hydroceles (swelling of the scrotum in males) and eye diseases undergo screening and surgeries,” he said.
The gesture, he said, was part of comprehensive campaign to eradicate NTDs by 2030.
Aliyu stressed the need for improved Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) activities to control NTDs.
In Jigawa, the state government has restated commitment to eradicate NTDs through effective prevention and treatment of the diseases.
The PHCDA Coordinator, Ashiru Adurrahman said the state government was working in collaboration with the Federal Government and development partners to put a final onslaught on the diseases.
“The state through its partners, such as Health and Development Support (HANDS) programme is fully committed to ensure the availability of medication, training of personnel and logistic support for the smooth running of the programme.
“The government also engaged traditional and religious leaders in mobilisation and awareness creation at the grassroots.
“The level of response and preparedness to stem outbreak of the NTDs is always high,” he said.
On NTDs burden, Abdurraman said that 167 communities in 17 of the 27 LGAs are Onchocerciasis endemic.
He said that a recent epidemiological mapping survey indicated the affected areas are now free of the diseases.
“There are 243 NTDs endemic areas in 19 of the 27 local government areas of the state.
“We conducted a mapping survey to have clear status of what we have been doing and no single case found. This means we’ve succeeded in tackling the diseases.
“However, Lymphatic Fillarasis disease is endemic in all the 27 LGAs, while the state successfully eradicated Soil Transmitted Helmentis disease in 23 LGAs.”