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Combating Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD)

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By Mercy Kelani

More than one billion people are affected by NTDs in impoverished communities.

Prof. Ali Pate, of the current Minister of Health and Social Welfare, affirmed the commitment of the Federal Government to ensuring investment in capacity building and health data infrastructure, to put an end to serious health challenges. This investment is particularly needed to combat Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) — 20 different disease groups of conditions that have major prevalence in tropical areas, having huge effects on impoverished communities — and engage a multi-sectoral approach in tackling Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).

According to a statement which had the signature of the Director of Press at the Federal Ministry of Health, Patricia Deworitshe, Prof. Pate made his statement at the World Health Organization Regional Committee for Africa’s ongoing 73rd session in Botswana. Prevalent in tropical areas, more than one billion people are affected by NTDs in impoverished locations. These diseases are regarded to as “neglected” because it seems like they are not present on the global health agenda, have association with social exclusion and stigma, and receive little funding.

FG is taking necessary steps to address issues of AMR.

Across the world, Nigeria is considered as one of the most endemic countries for NTDs. The Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) present in Nigeria include soil-transmitted helminthiasis, trachoma, Human African Trypanosomiasis, rabies, yaws, scabies, elephantiasis, river blindness, schistosomiasis, leishmaniasis, mycetoma, leprosy, and fascioliasis. Represented by the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Kachollom Daju, at the event, Prof. Pate stated that the federal government was taking necessary steps to address issues of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).

Antimicrobial Resistance is very dangerous to the health of humans, animals and the environment in the region. In his speech, Prof. Pate spoke of the ability of the government to develop and maintain suboptimal capacity in the generation and management of health data, which has deep association with the experiences of the nation. He added that there is recognition of the necessity of timely, accurate, and comprehensive data to guide the country’s interventions and policies, as it makes efforts to build resilient health information systems.

WHO has contributed to making national health systems resilient.

Amidst his acknowledgment of the progress and achievements highlighted in the 2022-2023 annual report of the WHO African Region, the Minister of Health and Social Welfare said that the report covers the collective efforts made in the advancement of health and well-being across the continent, especially during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. He posited that some of the major achievements made in the Nigerian health sector, according to the report, include collaborative response to the pandemic in alignment with the pursuit of the Universal Health Coverage.

Nigeria had excelled in immunization, which is essential in the public health landscape; the integration of vaccines which include typhoid conjugate vaccine, APV vaccine, and malaria vaccine will also signify a better way forward. These steps were said to be in alignment with the commitment of the country to prevent diseases that have burdened communities in Nigeria for a long period of time. He added that the support of WHO in making national health systems, that are focused on primary health care, resilient has enabled the capacity of Nigeria in health crisis management and provision of essential services.

Achievement of global targets will be supported by three pillars.

Ending the neglect to attain the Sustainable Development Goals: a road map for neglected tropical diseases 2021−2030 sets global targets and milestones for prevention, control, elimination or eradication of the 20 disease groups and cross-cutting targets associated with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Achievement of these targets will be supported by three foundational pillars. They include accelerate programmatic action, intensify cross-cutting approaches and change operating models and culture to facilitate country ownership, respectively representing each of the pillars.

Related Link

WHO: Website

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