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138.9m Nigerians need interventions against tropical diseases – WHO

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Data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that 138.9 million Nigerians require interventions against Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs).

This is according to the latest epidemiological and programmatic data for 2022, which were gathered, compiled, and analysed in 2023, and obtained from the WHO on Saturday.

The body also said NTDs are endemic in Nigeria as it ranks first in the African region and second globally after India.

WHO defined NTDs as a diverse group of conditions of parasitic, bacterial, viral, fungal, and non-communicable origin, noting that there are more than 15 NTDs in Nigeria.

The report stated, “They prevent children from going to school and adults from going to work, trapping communities in cycles of poverty and inequity. People affected by disabilities and impairments caused by NTDs often experience stigma within their communities, hindering their access to needed care and leading to social isolation.

“Nigeria is endemic for several NTDs. The only disease eliminated was dracunculiasis (Guinea-worm disease) in 2013. The population requiring interventions against NTDs was approximately 138.9 million in 2022, ranking first in the African region and second globally after India.

“This includes 138.9 million requiring treatment for lymphatic filariasis through mass drug administration; 48.7 million requiring treatment for soil-transmitted helminthiases through mass drug administration; and 43.5 million requiring treatment for onchocerciasis through mass drug administration”.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government had in 2023 said it would eradicate NTDs in the country by 2027.

The Director of the WHO Global Neglected Tropical Diseases Programme, Dr Ibrahima Fall, said, “With a renewed focus on strategic priorities addressing advocacy for action, partnership, costing and accelerated implementation, technical gaps including research and development and leadership.

“We must intensify our collective action to address the deep-rooted inequalities that fuel the transmission of NTDs in the populations where they persist”.

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