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The Ogun State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Tomi Coker has disclosed that no fewer than 80% of the state population suffers from one of the Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) identified in the world.
She added that 1.4 million school age children in the state are at risk of contracting soil transmitted Helminthiasis known in Yoruba as ‘Araninu’ and Schistosomiasis known as ‘Atosi-Aja’.
Out of over 17 diseases classified as NTDs six which includes Onchocerciasis (Inarun), Lymphatic Filariasis (Iwuse), Schistosomiasis (Atosi Aja), soil transmitted Helminthiasis (AranInu), Leprosy (Ete) and Buruli Ulcer (Egbo Adaajina) have been identified in Ogun State.
NTDs are a group of diseases that are caused by parasites and bacteria which are mainly associated with poverty and are common in environments with poor hygiene, inadequate or lack of portable water supplies and poor living conditions.
The commissioner spoke at a press conference in commemoration of the 2021 World Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) at the state Nigerian Medical Association house in Abeokuta.
According to the commissioner, Africa has 40% of the global cases of NTDs with Nigeria topping the chat as the most affected country on the continent.
The commissioner added Ogun State with presence of six NTDs has two local governments with the highest Schistosomiasis records in Nigeria.
In her words, “Africa is responsible for 40% of the total global NTDs burden of about 1.5 billion people living with one or more of these diseases across 149 countries worldwide. Sadly, Nigeria is Africa’s most affected country with about 25% of total cases of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in the continent. Presently, there are over 17 diseases classified as NTDs, six out of which are prevalent in Ogun State which includes Onchocerciasis (Inarun), Lymphatic Filariasis (Iwuse), Schistosomiasis (Atosi Aja), soil transmitted Helminthiasis (AranInu), Leprosy (Ete) and Buruli Ulcer (Egbo Adaajina).
“Recent statistics on the prevalence of some of the NTDs in Ogun revealed that 80% of the entire population is at risk of Onchocerciasis and Lymphatic Filariasis across 18 and 14 local government areas respectively. It is noteworthy that each LGA in the state is endemic for one or more NTDs, particularly Abeokuta North and Odeda local government areas which are with the highest prevalence of Schistosomiasis in Nigeria according to the mapping conducted by Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Similarly, 1.4 million school-age children are at risk of Schistosomiasis and soil transmitted Helminthiasis in the state.
The commissioner who noted that the Covid-19 pandemic hindered the campaign against NTDs in 2021 added that the state has been able to deworm 532,032 children and given free Onchocerciasis (Inarun) and Lymphatic Filariasis (Iwuse) treatments to 1.7 million residents among other NTDs measures.
“…measures thus far…include school-based deworming activities last year covered 532,032 school-age children, 1.7 million residents were provided with free treatment to prevent the transmission of Onchocerciasis (Inarun) and Lymphatic Filariasis (Iwuse) through a community-based treatment exercise.”
She however called on all residents and stakeholders in the state to take up action in ending the neglect of NTDs in the state.