By Julie Ekong
The Lagos State government has promised to give Neglected Tropical Diseases, NTDs, the attention they deserve to rid the state of such diseases and prevent people from falling sick from the infections.
The State Commissioner for Health, Professor, Akin Abayomi made this known at the Data Dissemination on the Successful Mass Administration of Medicines for the Control Schistosomiasis event in Lagos.
Professor Abayomi who said although Lagos started late, it has succeeded in tackling the diseases head-on and would not relent until it achieved the desired results.
He called on the development partners to join the State for effective state-wide outreach.
“To start with, we have a budget close to fifty million naira, which we will also look at when we start implementing. We pray that we are able to get approval and also have funds for Neglected Tropical Diseases”
The Commissioner’s message was delivered by the Director of Epidemiology, Biosecurity and Global Health, Dr Ismail Abdul-Salam.
On his part, the National Coordinator, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Nse Akpan commended
Lagos on efforts being made to tackle the NTDs and enumerated some of the challenges to include, lack of Community participation, and inability to manage people with disability.
He suggested the inclusion of NTDs in other health programmes and
urged the Media and Private Sector to continue to collaborate with the Federal and State Governments in sensitizing members of the public on neglected tropical diseases.
“We have classified them to two groups, we have the ones we quickly going to eliminate. I have met a patient urinating blood, but was attributing it to the witches and wizards from his village. We have seen people go blind from wind, it was a bacterial infection. Diagnosis was done, and they were treated. These ailments are neglect because of ignorance”
The World Health Organisation, WHO representative, Dr Sulaiman Aliyu, said Nigeria contributes about forty to fifty percent to the burden of NTDs in the world.
This he said posed a challenge to the health indices in Nigeria.
Dr Sulaiman advised that all hands should be on deck to ensure everyone is safe by eliminating the disease.
“Lagos is big, with a population of over twenty million, too know the number of people at risk. Let’s not forget that snake bites, leprosy and some other diseases out there are endemic in Lagos or prevalent in one or two of the Local Councils”
The Executive Director MITOSATH, a Development Partner, Dr Francisca Olamiju, singled out Lagos State as the first state to implement
“My appeal to the media is that everyone that lives in Lagos , every policy makers at every level hear this, that there are neglected tropical diseases, and they can affect anyone”
She advised everyone to imbibe the culture of personal hygiene and environmental sanitation to win the war against communicable diseases