Nigeria has 25 percent of NTDs in Africa, says Health Minister

Nigeria accounts for around 25% of all Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in Africa, the minister of health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, has said.

Dr. Ehanire at a ministerial press briefing held to commemorate the 2023 World Neglected Tropical Disease Day in Abuja noted that during the colonial era, the highest NTD rates were in Egypt and Yemen, with a sizeable number also in Iran and Algeria.

Neglected Tropical Diseases are a category of infectious and non-infectious diseases that are prevalent largely in remote parts of developing nations with inadequate sanitization and nutritional status, dangerous water supply, subpar living circumstances, and low levels of education.

He said; “with millions of people at risk, Nigeria has about 25% of all NTDs in Africa, including Lymphatic Filariasis (122 million cases), Onchocerciasis (33 million cases), Schistosomiasis (20 million cases), Soil Transmitted Helminths (29.4 million cases), Trachoma (5.3 million cases), and Human African Trypanosomiasis (6.5 million cases).”

“During the colonial era, Iran and Algeria had some of the highest NTD rates, along with Egypt and Yemen. It is now well acknowledged that improving social determinants of health including inadequate water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) is crucial for NTD management and eradication. This needs to be publicized in Nigeria.”

The purpose of World NTD Day, according to him, is to raise public and international awareness of the seriousness of NTDs while also providing an opportunity to highlight achievements, overcome obstacles, set policy priorities, and encourage support for initiatives aimed at their prevention, control, and elimination.

Speaking further during the theme-related event, “Act now. Act as a team. In “Invest in Neglected Tropical Diseases,” Ehanire reaffirmed the government’s commitment to guiding the nation toward 2030 sustainable global health targets.

The impetus to end the suffering from these 20 diseases, which are brought on by a range of pathogens, viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungus, and other poisons, is also re-energized by the NTD.

When the World Health Organization (WHO) releases its 10-year NTD road map for 2021–2030 on January 28, 2021, said it “will focus on the millions of people with limited or no access to prevention, treatment, and care, proposed ambitious targets, and innovative approaches to tackle NTDs and provide blueprint and direction to global elimination,” he continued.

The minister said, “The fourth such event in Nigeria, following the established global practice, is the global commemoration of the 2023 edition of the “Neglected Tropical Diseases” (NTDs).

Even if there may be a large number of sufferers, the diseases are nevertheless considered “neglected” since they are virtually completely excluded from the global health agenda and are linked to social marginalization and shame.

Neglecting the populace also contributes to the cycle of poverty and restricted access to employment possibilities.

NTDs illnesses include; Lymphatic Filariasis, Onchocerciasis, Schistosomiasis, Soil Transmitted Helminthes, Buruli Ulcers, Leishmaniasis, Dengue, Guinea Worm Disease, Trachoma, Leprosy, Rabies, Noma, Yaws, and Mycetoma, according to him.