The Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, has said that about 122 Million Nigerians are at risk of Neglected Tropical disease.
The Head Child Rights Information Bureau(CRIB), Mercy Megwan, who represented the Minister, made the disclosure in Ibadan at a 2 day media dialogue on Neglected Tropical Diseases Control in Nigeria.
According to her, the burden of Neglected Tropical Disease is very high in Nigeria, which is usually associated with poverty, poor hygiene and sanitation issues.
The Head of CRIB, noted that Neglected Tropical Disease can damage the child’s intellectual and growth.
“The diseases are very dangerous because they can cause damages and affect children’s development and growth. A large number of children are having the disease”.
She therefore charged media practitioners to increase their reportage of Neglected Tropical Diseases in the country.
“We want to reduce the incidences of mortality and morbidity of NTD’s through effective reporting across all media. The meeting will inform media practitioners about how the disease affect people in the rural areas and in poor communities”.
Speaking at the event, Dr Anyaike Chukwuma, National Neglected Tropical Disease Coordinator, said more attention should be placed on Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) in order to bring Nigerians out of poverty.
He highlighted that NTD’s is closely associated with poverty, poor sanitation, sub standard housing conditions and deficient health Care system.
“Neglected Tropical Disease is common in Tropical or Sub-Tropical region, and usually associated with lack of safe water sources. They usually affect the poorest and receive less attention than other Diseases”.
Chukwuma noted that globally, every eye is on the country , as every part of Nigeria has a bit of Neglected Tropical Disease.
Speaking about Guinea worm, which is one of the Neglected Tropical Disease, he tasked Nigerians to inform relevant authorities whenever there is a case of Guinea worm in the community.
” Nigeria is at its surveillance stage for Guinea worm, hence we must put in all effort to ensure that the disease is eliminated totally”.
According to Chukwuma, the Federal Ministry of health seeks to have a country where there is no Neglected Tropical Disease.
“We are putting up a strategy to eliminate Neglected Tropical Disease. We want a situation where there will be no embarrassment to the country. We are ensuring that at the Primary Health Care level, the citizen have access to treatment”.
In the same vein, UNICEF WASH Specialist, Bioye Ogunjobi, disclosed that since the year 1991, the child rights body supports Onchocerosis, and Lymphatic Filariasis control intervention in 12 states using fund from UNICEF USA.
He further added that to take care of Neglected Tropical Disease, access to WASH is critical.
” 46 million people still practice open defecation in Nigeria, while 14 percent of Nigerians have access to unimproved source of water.”
“Open defecation is detrimental to human health and leads to NTD’s like trachoma, lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis dengue and Leprosy”.
He expressed optimism that effective WASH interaction such as Handwashing, will aid in reducing the incidence of NTD’s.