Raji Razak, the Kwara State Commissioner for Health has disclosed that over 120 million Nigerians are at risk of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), while over 1.5 billion people are at risk worldwide.
The health commissioner stated this in Ilorin during an interactive session with journalists.
He observes that the NTDs has been identified as a major public health problem not only in Kwara or Nigeria but the world at large.
“NTDs threaten more than 1.5 billion people living in the poorest and most marginalized communities worldwide.
“That the disease is associated with disability and disfiguration, taking away not only their health but also their chances of staying in school, earning a living or even being accepted by their family or community,” he said.
The Commissioner listed some of the NTDs to include River blindness, Schistosomiasis, Soul Transmitted Helminths, Leprosy, and Lymphatic filariasis among others.
He explains that these diseases are of public health importance that affects many people in the country.
“We are reaching more people with NTDs treatment than ever before. In Kwara, we have distributed drugs such as Mectizan, Albendazole, Praziquantel and Mebendazole to combat these diseases.
“We have also carried out free surgical interventions, Hydrocelectomy on 210 patients with hydrocele.
“Over 2 million treatments ranging from school-age children to adults were done across the 16 local government area of the state,” he said.
Razak, also disclosed that patients with lymphoedema and elephantiasis are currently being managed across the three senatorial districts of the state.
He pledges the state government will give support in the area of improved water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), reversing the cycle of poverty and saying no to stigmatisation, among others.
Also speaking, Funsho Oyinloye, State Coordinator of NTDs, Kwara Ministry of Health described NTDs as diseases that are neglected but ravage the body and decrease people’s health and reduce chances for life.
According to him, these diseases reduce capacity to a productive life, while also reduce life span.
He urges government at all levels to accord importance to NTDs in Nigeria, adding that the government should not see it as a simple disease, warning that the disease can also kill, just like any other.
Oyinloye, however, disclosed that in 2019, about 5 million tablets were given, for both curative and preventive measures while over 1.2 million people were treated in the state.
SIKIRAT SHEHU, Ilorin