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Rural areas often face a lack of essential healthcare services.

Nigeria Reviews NTDs Master Plan

The National Coordinator, Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), Dr Nse Akpan, says the prevalence of the diseases in Nigeria was dropping gradually.

He said this in Abuja while speaking to newsmen on the sidelines of the NTDs Master Plan Development Workshop (2022-2026).

According to him, in some states, some of these diseases had been eliminated completely while in some others had been interrupted.

NTDs are composed of approximately 20 diseases affecting people living in sub-tropical environments where access to proper sanitation and healthcare was limited. They impact approximately 1.6 billion people in 149 countries around the world; affecting those who live in poverty and have limited access to adequate healthcare, clean water and sanitation facilities.

NTDs cause illness, death, disability and disfigurement, resulting in stigma, social exclusion, school absenteeism and lost productivity. This made the World Health Organisation (WHO) to come up with a road map for its elimination by 2030.

The Federal Government, alongside other partners and collaborators, was working to reduce the burden.

“The country needs to sit down, develop a plan on how to tackle these diseases in the country, WHO gave us a mandate that the country needs to work towards eliminating these tropical diseases between now and 2030.

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“If you look at the data, we just have eight years to achieve that and yes we have started. Hopefully, with this new plan that is coming up and with all the stakeholders we should be able to achieve at least 80 per cent elimination,’’he said.

Akpan said the plan would be ready and disseminated soon.

He also confirmed that out of the about 20 different NTDs known worldwide, Nigeria was facing 15 of them with each having its own burden. Speaking about the nature of the diseases, he said that they were called neglected because they mostly affected the low income earners and poor people and so tended to be neglected and ignored.

“You will look at people going out with some deformities because of these diseases and sometimes they do not even know it and attribute it to witches and wizards in the village.”

The WHO NTDs Focal Point for Nigeria, Dr Suleiman Aliyu, advocated for a holistic document that would encompass all the issues and probable solutions to enable the nation achieve its goal by 2030.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Water and Sanitation Officer, Mr Job Ominyi, assured of the organisation’s commitment to support Nigeria in the fight against NTDs.

Highpoint of the workshop was award given to seven awardees comprising of state governments, individuals and organisations that were enabling the elimination of NTDs in Nigeria.