From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa

Bayelsa State Government has commenced an awareness campaign on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) and its impact on communities.

Commissioner for Health, Pabara Nweton Igwelle, who stated this during the World NTD Day with the theme: Act Now, Act Together, Invest in Neglected Tropical Diseases, in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, said the state government is committed to ensure it step up efforts to control and eliminate the diseases.

According to him, NTDs are a group of parasitic and bacterial infections that affect over one billion people worldwide, with the majority living in low and middle-income countries.

He said the diseases are known as neglected tropical diseases because they affect the poorest and most marginalised populations and receive little attention from the global health community.

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In Bayelsa State, NTDs such as lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, and soil-transmitted helminthiases are prevalent, causing significant morbidity and mortality among affected populations.

He said to address the public health problem “in our state, we have implemented a comprehensive NTDs control programme that includes mass drug administration, vector control, health education, and community mobilisation,” adding that “a strong surveillance system to monitor the prevalence of NTDs and evaluate the effectiveness of our interventions is established.”

While insisting that mass drug administration is the primary strategy used to control and eliminate NTDs, Igwelle said health education and community mobilisation are also crucial components of the state government NTDs control programme.

He noted that the efforts of the state government, notwithstanding, there are still steps to be taken to achieve the desired goal in the state.