BY OJO SAMSON AYOMIDE
Lagos State Government has concluded plans to conduct an assessment of the prevalence of some neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) including Lymphatic Filariasis and Onchocerciasis in 20 Local Government areas of the State as part of ongoing efforts for treatment and elimination of the diseases in Lagos.
State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, disclosed this today after an awareness walk organised by the State Ministry of Health and a non-governmental organisation, Mission to Save the Helpless (MITOSATH), to commemorate the Year 2023 World NTD Day in Lagos State, explained that the assessment which is scheduled to commence in February will lead to targeted treatments of NTDs where necessary in line with World Health Organisation’s NTD elimination road map.
He said: “In view of the Year 2023 World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day theme, ‘Act Now, Act Together, Invest in Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases’, Lagos State would like to assess the prevalence of other NTDs including Lymphatic Filariasis and Onchocerciasis, which is set to commence in early February in 14 LGAs for Onchocerciasis and six LGAs for Lymphatic Filariasis”.
Abayomi, who was represented by the Director of Epidemiology, Biosecurity and Global Health, Dr. Ismail Abdus-Salam stated that WHO recognised the 30th of January every year as World NTD Day because of the impact of NTDs and the growing concern of its burden of risk on national and global economies over the past few decades.
While noting that Nigeria accounts for 25% of Africa’s NTD burden, the Commissioner said that millions of people worldwide are affected and more at risk of NTDs due to prevalent societal neglect and lack of basic amenities such as water, sanitation, hygiene and healthcare waste management facilities.
His words, “Neglected Tropical Diseases are a group of conditions affecting more than a billion people who mostly live in marginalised, rural, poor urban areas and conflict zones. Although they are preventable and treatable, these diseases and their intricate interrelationships with poverty and ecological systems continue to cause devastating health, social and economic consequences”.
“True to the name, Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) seldom receive the attention they warrant. In order to end this neglect, the 74th World Health Assembly declared January 30th as ‘World Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) Day”, Abayomi stated.
Speaking on the intervention and efforts of the Lagos State Government to control and eliminate NTDs, the Commissioner disclosed that the State government through the Ministry of Health in collaboration with WHO, Federal Ministry of Health and MITOSATH successfully completed treatment to prevent Schistosomiasis in nine endemic LGAs of Lagos in 2022, adding that over 350,000 School-Age Children (SAC) successfully received treatment for the disease.
“Lagos has won several awards amongst which, was the award of an outstanding performance for being the first state to implement Schistosomiasis ward-level treatment in line with the new WHO guideline”, he said.
Speaking in the same vein, the Executive Director of MITOSATH, Dr. Francesca Olamiju said MITOSATH will continue to collaborate with Lagos State Government and other relevant governmental and non-governmental organisations in pursuance of the objective of NTDs control and elimination.
Olamiju who was represented by the Assistant Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, MITOSTAH, Ms. Chimdinma Okoronkwo, explained that MITOSATH collaborated with the Federal Ministry of Health, Lagos State Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation to implement the first ward-level strategy of Mass Administration of Medicines against Schistosomiasis, adding that MITOSATH has also hosted dissemination workshops to afford stakeholders and partners the opportunity to share knowledge, best practices and lessons from the implementation of NTD prevention, control and elimination exercise in Lagos State.
She noted that MITOSATH is also ready to collaborate with the NTD Programme Unit of the Lagos State Ministry of Health, the Federal Ministry of Health and WHO to assess the prevalence of Lymphatic Filariasis and Onchocerciasis in 20 LGAs of Lagos State.
Appealing for private sector engagement for the elimination of NTDs, the Executive Director stated that all hands must be on deck to eliminate NTDs in Lagos and Nigeria.
“Together we can eliminate NTDs in Lagos and Nigeria at large”, she said.