By Asmau Ahmad
The Nigeria’s Federal Government said it will eliminate Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in Nigeria by 2027, ahead of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO’s) 2030 target.
Dr Nicholas Olobio, Deputy Director and Programme Manager, National Trachoma Elimination Programme, Federal Ministry of Health, stated this at a two-day National Trachoma Quarterly Review meeting on Thursday in Abuja.
Olobio said that the WHO Roadmap was expected to eliminate NTDs, including trachoma by 2030.
He said that Nigeria had made so much progress and expressed confidence that the diseases would be eliminated in the country by 2027.
“So far, Nigeria is at about 85 per cent because when we started, we had about 38 million Nigerians at risk of going blind due to trachoma.
“But it has been reduced significantly to about 3.7 million Nigerians, so you will see that a lot of progress has been made, with support from our partners,” he said.
He added that the states were working in partnership with the Local Government Areas to implement strategies, guidelines, and carry out activities towards the elimination of NTDs.
According to him, Nigeria has achieved so much progress all the state are following the guidelines.
He particularly said that Adamawa, Ebonyi, Bauchi, Kano and Katsina states have made much progress towards the elimination of NTDs.
“Medicines alone cannot deal with NTDs, but we inculcate water, sanitation, hygiene, and behavioural change.
“People need to stop the practice of open defecation. Even in Abuja, there is open defecation.
“So, we must look for ways to change people’s behaviour so that they can improve their sanitation practices,” he said.
Also, Prof. Caleb Mpyet, Chairman, National Trachoma Taskforce and Sightsavers Global Trachoma Mapping Epidemiologist, said that the meeting would review the level of SAFE strategy for trachoma implemented in each state as recommended by the WHO.
He said that Benue and Bauchi States were almost eliminating the diseases, and expressed hope that they would get there by the end of 2023.
“Jigawa is also making a lot of progress. If there is any state that we may still be working on after this year, it may be Borno and Yobe states where insecurity has been a problem,” he said.
On Nigeria’s target to eliminate NTDs by 2027, he said, “usually in life, you set your target and if you do not reach there, you reach somewhere near.
“We had some setbacks because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that brought us back by two to three years. So, if we do not meet the target by 2027, we may reach the target by 2029.”
NTDs are a diverse group of 20 conditions that are mainly prevalent in tropical areas, where they affect more than one billion people who live in impoverished communities.
These diseases are “neglected” because they are almost absent from the global health agenda, receive little funding, and are associated with stigma and social exclusion.
Nigeria carries around 25 per cent of Africa’s NTDs burden, making it one of the most endemic countries in the world for these debilitating conditions.
Nigeria inaugurated a road map in 2021 to reach global targets in the prevention, control, elimination, and eradication a diverse set of NTDs and disease groups by 2030.
The roadmap aims to renew momentum, proposes strategies that intersect multiple diseases and advances actions focused on integrated platforms for the delivery of interventions.