The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Mr Linus Awute, on Thursday warned that poor funding might affect Nigeria’s target of Non-Tropical Diseases (NTDs) elimination by 2020.
The permanent secretary raised the alert in Abuja at a public presentation of the report on the epidemiological mapping of Schistosiomiasis and Soil Transmitted Helminthes (STH) in 19 states and the FCT. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Schistosiomiasis is a parasitic disease caused by blood fluke, while STH is also a parasitic disease caused by several types of worms found in the soil.
Represented by Dr Bridget Okoeguale, the Director of Public Health in the ministry, Awute said the current level of funding for NTDs was insufficient for Nigeria to achieve the 2020 elimination target. He said findings from the study conducted in the 19 states revealed the prevalence rate and the burden of the diseases in the country, hence the need for urgent action.
According to Awute, there is a need to harness new funding sources if the target must be achieved and government cannot do it alone without recourse to partners and stakeholders. “The time for action is now because this report buttresses the fact that action should be taken at all levels of government to chart the appropriate policy direction and inter-sectoral actions.
“The high proportion of children infected with intestinal worms in the states sampled calls for a collective resolve and action to fight the NTDs,’’ he said. He, however, stressed that the outcome of the study, which had established the endemicity status of the diseases, constituted the first step towards planning and implementation of effective interventions.
Awute said the with the completion of the current study in 724 local government areas in the country had been mapped while 50 others would be covered as soon as security improved in the north east region of the country. While acknowledging the contribution of the funding partners for the study, Awute stressed the need for other partners to support Nigeria’s quest of eliminating NTDs by 2020.
He said Nigeria had received drugs and medical consumables worth over 10 million dollars from development partners around the world in the past five years and appealed for more. Earlier, the Director of Public Health also represented by the Head of the NTDs unit, Dr Ifeoma Anabogu, hailed the contribution of partners in the actualisation of the mapping.
She said the completion of the mapping would enable government and its partners effectively implement intervention programmes in the country. According to her, the survey will inform treatment decisions to accelerate the attainment of the goal of administering interventions to at least 75 per cent of those at risk.
She, however, advised authorities to ensure proper sanitation in the environment to reduce infection while proper healthcare services should be sourced for critically ill persons. NAN reports that Africa has an estimated number of 200 million persons infected with Schistosiomiasis with Nigeria having the highest burden of the disease.
The symptoms for Schistosiomiasis include bloody stool and urine, abdominal pains, anaemia and stunted growth in children. NAN also reports that about 24 per cent of the world’s population is infected with soil transmitted helminthes. The effects include damaged red blood cells causing anaemia and stunted growth in children.
Published: Jun 4, 2015. By The Leadership
Copyright © 2015 Leadership Newspaper