Neglected Diseases Aiding Poverty Spread In Nigeria -Expert

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Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) have been aiding and promoting poverty spread in Nigeria, the National Coordinator, NTD Elimination Programme, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr Chukwuma Anyaike, has said.

Dr. Anyaike, a Director in the Ministry said about 122 million Nigerians were at risk of one or more of the Neglected Tropical Diseases and that this reduces the productivity of the affected citizens.

Speaking at a Media Dialogue organised by United Nations Children Fund (UNICF) in Collaboration with Child Rights Information Bureau, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, held in Ibadan, Oyo State, Anyaike said adequate attention was not given to NTDs because they are not the diseases of the bourgeoise but affected mainly the poor in rural communities and urban slums.

Dr. Anyaike said Nigeria contributes 40% to the global burden of NTDs adding that the diseases render those affected unproductive, their dependants suffer and poverty gains more ground while appealing to government at all levels to pay more attention to NTDs and increase budget for it to save lives, banish poverty and improve the economy.

He also urged the media to raise awareness of NTD by sensitizing the people about it while also calling on stakeholders to support the efforts to eliminate NTDS, saying no investment on NTD was a waste.

An expert in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene who works with UNICEF, Mr Bioye Ogunjobi said adherence to proper hygiene including use of toilet, regular hand washing and clean environment could assist in eliminating NTDs.

UNICEF Communication Specialist, Dr. Geoffrey Njoku said the meeting was aimed at equipping journalists with useful information about NTDs to enable them sensitize the public about it.

Njoku urged participants to mainstream the issues around NTDs so as to attract attention and prompt necessary actions going forward.

The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed represented by the head, CRIB, Federal Ministry of Information, Mercy Megwa said the ministry was working out modalities that will help in the control, elimination and eradication of NTDs in the country.

“NTDs are communicable diseases such as leprosy, Guinea worm, rabies associated with poverty and commonly found in rural communities with unsafe water sources, substandard housing conditions, and poor hygiene.

“With more than 22 million people affected, mostly children, it calls for concern due to the huge burden of NTDs in the country. We call on the media to disseminate accurate information about the diseases to reduce the incidence and reduce mortality and morbidity rate.”

UNICEF Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) specialist, Mr. Bioye Ogunjobi while speaking on the support to eliminate NTDs in Nigeria said, they were giving support because children and women are involved.”