The Anambra State Government in partnership with Carter Centre said it successfully eliminated two Neglected Tropical Diseases – River Blindness and Elephantiasis, through mass drug administration and vector control programmes.

Dr Afam Obidike, state’s Commissioner for Health, made the announcement at a news conference on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) Interventions, to mark the 2024 World NTDs Day, in Awka on Friday.

The theme for this year’s commemoration is “Unite to Act Towards Elimination of NTDs”.

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World NTDs Day is marked every Jan. 30 to create awareness and call on everyone to support the growing momentum for the control, elimination and eradication of these diseases.

Obidike who was represented by Dr Afam Aneme, Acting Director, Public Health Department, said
the state gained the laudable achievements following concerted efforts to prevent, control and eliminate NTDs.

He identified Onchocerciasis known as River Blindness, Lymphatic Filariasis also known as Elephantiasis, Schistosomiasis and Soil Transmitted Helminthiasis (STH), as the NTDs in the state.

According to him, NTDs are caused by a variety of pathogens including viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi and toxins.

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“Of the four preventive NTDs under intervention, we successfully interrupted the transmission of two, River Blindness and Elephantiasis through mass drug administration and vector control programmes.

“The achievements were evident during 2020 Epidemiological Reclassification Survey on Onchocerciasis (River Blindness) in 16 endemic Local Government Areas (LGAs).

“And in the 2022 Transmission Assessment Survey on Lymphatic Filariasis (Elephantiasis) in 21 endemic LGAs, which reported lower prevalences of 0.3 per cent and 0.1 per cent respectively.

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“Today all endemic LGAs have stopped mass drug administration against the two diseases and entered post treatment surveillance stage,” he said.

The Commissioner said the other two NTDs – Soil Transmitted Helminth infections and schistosomiasis were currently receiving public health attention in the 12 endemic LGAs.

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Obidike said that 1,211 health workers, 350 Community Directed Distributors, 106 Community Supervisors and 3,455 were trained for identification and treatment of different NTDs in the state.

He thanked Carter Centre, Parasitology and Public Health Society of Nigeria (PPSN) and other partners for supporting the state in the fight to eradicate NTDs.

Also speaking, Programme Officer, the Carter Centre, Mrs Egeonu Attamah-Isiani, said NTDs wrecked havoc in the human body and required attention.

She said that the NTD drugs were administered in homes, churches, offices, markets and at social gatherings, free of charge to achieve the feat.

“The Federal Ministry of Health conducted surveys and assessments, with the results, the National Onchocerciasis Elimination Committee in Abuja declared that Anambra state had eliminated these diseases.

“There were steps the state went through in partnership with the federal ministry of health, Carter Centre and other partners to achieve this milestone.

“The other two NTDs are yet to be eliminated and we needed to intensify awareness and interventions in the state,”she said.