By Justina Auta
The Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), Sightsavers Nigeria and other stakeholders are developing a national guideline for the management of mobility and disability induced by Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs).
Mr Nse Akpan, the National Cordinator, Neglected Tropical Diseases Programe in the ministry, disclosed this at the opening of a three-day workshop for key stakeholders on Tuesday in Abuja.
Akpan said the document would eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis, popularly called elephantiasis, among others.
“This is to ensure that we have a guideline that speaks towards management of mobility and disability induced by Neglected Tropical Diseases in the country.
“We want to ensure that the guideline addresses the burden of the people, also addresses the disease and work towards interruption and elimination of it.
“The goal of the global community is to ensure that we eliminate these diseases and people are not infected and come up with disability.
“When we interrupt at the early stage, we will be able to reduce the burden of disability,’’ he said.
Akpan said poor arrival of medication, misconception and attachment of NTDs to myths, spiritual attacks or superstitions were some of the challenges affecting elimination of the disease in the country.
“ Some Nigerians are not keen in practicing sound sanitation and hygiene practices. You will see people living in a dirty environment. You don’t need government to clean your environment.
“Some people still believe that these diseases are been attached to myths, attacks or superstitions. Some believe that they are not caused by NTDs.
“So, we should be able to educate people on these and if they are treated on time, one will be able to come out of the disease,’’ he said.
He, therefore, stressed the need for access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities, sensitisation exercises in communities and full implementation of the guidelines to be developed towards eliminating NTDs.
“ The prevention varies as some are prevented with drugs, hygiene and sanitation packages. The disease is more common among the poor, downtrodden areas, where we have slums, shanties and unhygienic environment.
“ We educate people on how to stay in hygienic environment, do sanitation practices and when infected, access treatment and drugs,’’ he said.
Mrs Anita Gwom, the Senior Programme Manager, NTDs Sightsavers Nigeria, said the guideline would enable stakeholders implement programmes towards eliminating NTDs.
She said: “It is important because we have a target and a timeline for the elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) in Nigeria by 2030.
“We are hoping all the states in Nigeria would have eliminated the disease in all the local government areas that are endemic of this disease based on the global target.”
Gwom also stressed the need for more enlightenment to reduce prevalence of the disease and stop stigma of affected persons with disabilities caused by NTDs.
“At the community level, we have stigmatism affecting persons with disabilities due to these diseases.
“So we try to create lots of awareness and ensure that we deliver quality service, because when we do that, the patients usually come back and become advocates to support elimination of NTDs,’’ she said. (NAN)