By Doris Obinna

Lagos State Government said it has concluded plans to conduct assessment of the prevalence of some neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) including lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis in 20 local governments as part of on going efforts for treatment and elimination of the diseases.

Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi, disclosed this after an awareness walk to commemorate the World NTD Day. He explained that the assessment scheduled to commence in February would lead to targeted treatments of NTDs in line with World Health Organization’s (WHO) NTD elimination road map.

He said: “In view of 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 Epidemiology, Biosecurity and Global Health, Dr. Ismail Abdus-Salam stated that WHO recognized January 30 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 per cent 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.

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“NTDs are a group of conditions that affect more than a billion people who mostly live in marginalized, 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, NTDs seldom receive the attention they warrant. In order to end this neglect, the 74th World Health Assembly declared January 30 as ‘NTD Day,” Abayomi stated.

Speaking on the intervention and efforts of the state 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-aged 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.

 In the same vein, the Executive Director of MITOSATH, Dr. Francesca Olamiju said MITOSATH has continued and will continue to collaborate with Lagos State Government and other relevant governmental and non-governmental in pursuance of the objective of NTDs control and elimination.