FG plans multisectoral approach to tackle neglected tropical

The Federal Government has said it has planned a multi-sectoral approach to tackle Neglected Tropical Diseases for millions of people with little or no access to prevention, treatment and care of Neglected Tropical Diseases(NTDs)

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire in his speech at the commemoration of the 4th World NTDs Ministerial Press Briefing disclosed that this would be achieved in the rollout of the 10-year NTDs road map(2021 to 2030)by the World Health Organization (WHO) proposed ambitious targets and the innovative approaches to tackle NTDs and provide blueprint and direction to global elimination.

Ehanire said: “The plan is an integrated approach to deliver programmes, with emphasis on three approaches such as moving from process to impact measuring for accountability; putting in place effective multi-sectoral approach and integration of NTDs, country ownership and political commitment for sustainability”.

Ehanire further disclosed that Nigeria has reviewed its NTD Masterplan 2023 to 2027 which was launched today as he enjoined stakeholders to use the document as a guide for the attainment of Nigeria’s goals.

“Nigeria supports efforts to engage other disease endemic nations, partners and stakeholders to contribute to the development of the “Kigali Declaration on NTDs”, as proof of our collective commitment to partnership for ownership of the strategic document, as in the WHO road map”.

Ehanire however disclosed that substantial progress has been made in the past decade, evidenced by the Guinea Worm Disease eradication in 2013, onchocerciasis transmission elimination in Plateau and Nasarawa States in 2019, with imminent prospects of Kaduna, Kebbi and Zamfara States being free of the disease soon, leaving Nigeria with fewer endemic states, and over 28 million persons no longer needing treatment.

“Other achievements by the ministry include epidemiological mapping of preventable NTDs in all the 774 LGAs. Ongoing Mass Administration of medicines in school-based and community deworming programmes”.

“Mass Drug Administration for Lymphatic Filariasis, Schistosomiasis. 106 of 126 Trachoma endemic LGAs ending treatment and attaining elimination threshold, with 30 million persons, who were at risk of going blind from trachoma, reducing their risk to about 3.5 million”.

“The NTD Programme has managed 70% of 200,000 persons in the backlog for trachoma surgeries. National Policy and Training Manuals on Snakebite management developed along with procurement of Anti-Snake venom (ASV) and Anti-rabies vaccines and distributed to designated Health Facilities in all 6 geopolitical zones”.

“Case search for yaws conducted in 3 communities in Plateau and Nasarawa States and over 40 cases found. Further case searches are ongoing in Borno, Bauchi, Kebbi and Taraba States”.

“The NTD programme now migrating from paper-based data management to an electronic reporting system using DHIS, and officers trained on the use of LMIS tool to monitor drug distribution, consumption and report the adverse effect of those drugs in line with NAFDAC policy on pharmaco- vigilance”.

“Strong collaboration to address sanitation and hygiene issues, with special attention to policy to end Open Defecation”.

The Minister further disclosed that WASH-NTDs integration landscape analysis is ready for desk review with existing studies, campaigns, WASH and NTD national and sub-national plans; for gap analysis to strengthen WASH and NTD efforts to date”.

“Despite modest achievements, NTDs has been on the back burner, with little or no attention to the implementation of plans to reduce poverty and improve the wellbeing of sufferers”.

“It is important to note that control and elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in Nigeria will significantly contribute to the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and all hands must be on the deck to achieve this”. He added.

Similarly, the Minister of State for Health,  Joseph Ekumankama, said that the efforts put in place by the government to tackle these diseases have started yielding results as the burden of these diseases is reducing drastically in some states.

Ekumankama said that he is optimistic that with the rate at which the government is tackling these diseases, the country would soon meet up with the global target of eliminating some of these diseases before the end of 2030.

He reiterated that the NTDs program needed strong sector collaboration and good innovative practices, especially in areas of Water, and sanitation department Hygiene (WASH) practices while the case management component of NTDs needs to be effectively supported for implementation at all levels

Also, the National professional officer, NTD, World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Aliyu Suleiman, said that in 2022, the country conducted an assessment for lymphatic filariasis in 200 LGAs out of 583 endemic LGAs.

“As of today, we have less than 300 LGAs needing assessment before stopping mass drug administration for this disease,” he said.

Suleiman said that the health organisation is advocating for the NTD stakeholders and the country to Keep NTD services accessible through innovation, strengthen NTD integration, cross-sector collaborations and mainstreaming, for stronger country ownership and accountability and Invest sustainably in NTDs for the best returns.

According to him, We ask that the country stay committed to the delivery on the NTD road map 2021-2030, especially with the launch of the 2023-2027 master plan, address shortages of funds and medicines and foster partnerships.

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