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Nigerians are at risk of tropical diseases

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By Nicole

Tropical diseases have received little or no attention in terms of prevention.

A category of contagious illnesses known as neglected tropical diseases are prevalent in tropical and subtropical areas of the world. Since they haven’t gotten much, if any attention in terms of prevention and control for many years, they are categorized as “neglected.” They are identified and controlled under the guidance of the World Health Organization. Most of these 20 illnesses mostly impact women, children, and communities in poverty. The majority of those impacted by them reside in rural areas with overcrowded housing and inadequate access to basic amenities like water and restrooms. Globally, an estimated one billion individuals are impacted.

Onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis, helminth infections brought on by soil, and trachoma are among the neglected tropical diseases. Leptospirosis, trypanosomiasis, leishmaniasis, Buruli ulcer, leprosy, and snake-bite envenoming are additional diseases that are included in this list. Compared to malaria, which will cause 627,000 fatalities in 2020, more than 170,000 people will die each year from these diseases. However, the illnesses can also result in hunger, stigma, deformity, and cognitive issues, which can place a variety of social, economic, and psychological pressures on people who are affected.

Quarter of the people affected by the diseases in Africa live in Nigeria.

Nigeria has a disproportionately large load. Nigeria is home to 25% of all Africans who are afflicted by neglected tropical diseases. There are several million incidents of people being infected with more than one disease, and it is estimated that 100 million people in the country are at risk for at least one of the diseases. I can declare that Nigeria has made progress in controlling these diseases since I am an epidemiologist who has studied them for 21 years and offered technical support for control activities. Guinea-worm disease has been eliminated nationwide, while onchocerciasis has been eradicated in two states. But it still has more potential.

Several illnesses continue to be widespread. The National Neglected Tropical Diseases steering group is in charge of managing prevention initiatives. The federal, state, and municipal governments all have control units. Together, national and international contributors provide assistance. The mapping of diseases, creation of master plans, and delivery of interventions have all advanced. The WHO divides disease control activities into two categories: management and prevention. The use of effective, secure, and affordable medications is a key component of preventive control. Onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis, soil-transmitted helminths, and trachoma are among the illnesses that can be avoided in this approach. The majority of them are found in sub-Saharan Africa. Diseases that cannot be treated on a wide scale are handled on a case-by-case basis.

Country began concerted efforts to combat sleeping sickness and nagana.

With the founding of the Nigerian Institute for Trypanosomiasis Research, Kaduna, Nigeria began coordinated efforts to tackle human and animal trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness and nagana). Beginning in 1988, significant attempts were made to control human onchocerciasis (river blindness). The National Lymphatic Filariasis Elimination Programme was formed in 1997, following the availability of medication efficacy data. Through donor programs, assistance for the purchase, shipping, and distribution of medications surged throughout the 1990s. The Federal Ministry of Health established control units, and all 36 states were charged with carrying out control procedures using advised medications.

Volunteers go door to door to provide medications to members of their community in order to reach the marginalized groups who are most affected by these diseases. Where drug trafficking occurs in schools, teachers also play a similar role. The government budget, bilateral aid, and direct funding from development partners all support these efforts. Pharmaceutical corporations provide medicines, and the WHO organizes deliveries. In order to reach WHO treatment coverage of 65%, the treatment statistics for human onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis) from 2014 to 2021 demonstrated progress in the number of persons treated. Nigeria has not been able to reach the recommended coverage of 75% for schistosomiasis (bilharzia) and soil transmitted helminthiasis (intestinal worms), as set by the WHO. This demonstrates that efforts to manage and eradicate these diseases are ongoing.

The control of tropical diseases relies on mass administration of drugs.

Drugs must be administered in large quantities for neglected tropical illnesses to be prevented. Significant financial and human resources are needed for this. Effective community participation is crucial, but more so. However, the general population is not well informed about these illnesses or the measures being taken to control them. These control and elimination attempts are being hindered by a lack of medications, weak financial support, and material logistics for treatment campaigns. Poor political will, a lack of NGO partners in some areas, and apathy among medication distributors and healthcare professionals due to a lack of incentives are further problems. The epidemic made these problems worse. The government should pledge to control activities through increased funding, as should stakeholders at all levels. Additionally, individuals should be made aware of the importance of supporting control initiatives in their neighborhoods through advocacy.

Related Link

WHO: Website

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