LAGOS TAKES PROACTIVE MEASURES AGAINST NEGLECTED TROPICAL DISEASES

Government, Stakeholders Commemorates Y2024 World NTD Day with Awareness Walk

… As Government, Stakeholders Commemorates Y2024 World NTD Day with Awareness Walk

 

In a resolute effort to combat Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), the Lagos State Ministry of Health, in collaboration with stakeholders and non-governmental organizations, marked the Y2024 World Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) Day with a purposeful awareness walk around the State Government Secretariat and Alausa Communities.

The event, spearheaded by the coordinator for the NTD program in Lagos State, Mrs. Modupe Dawodu, saw active participation from representatives of partner NGO including  Maryanne Edeh of Evidence Action and Dr. Francesca Olamiju of Mission to Save the Helpless (MITOSATH), along with representatives from the Federal Ministry of Health.

The awareness walk, a visual representation of the collective commitment to eliminate NTDs, served as a platform to educate the public on the prevalence of these diseases and the urgent need for united action to address the inequalities that drive NTD.

In an exclusive interview during the Awareness Walk marking the Y2024 World Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) Day, the coordinator for the NTD program in Lagos State, Mrs. Modupe Dawodu, expressed gratitude to the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu for unwavering support in the fight against NTDs in Lagos State.

Mrs. Dawodu who represented the Permanent Secretary of the Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr. Olusegun Ogboye, highlighted the significance of combating neglected tropical diseases such as onchocerciasis, Lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminths, leprosy, and trachoma. Emphasizing Lymphatic filariasis as the most common in Lagos State, endemic in 6 Local Government Areas (LGAs), and schistosomiasis in 13 LGAs, she stressed the need for collective action.

“Notably, soil-transmitted helminths pose a serious challenge in three LGAs— Ibeju Lekki, Amuwo Odofin, and Ojo. To address this, the state implements a biannual deworming program for school-age children, 5 to 14 years old in these high-risk areas”, she said.

Mrs. Dawodu noted that the free medicine distributed during the mass administration of medicines campaign for the elimination NTDs, supplied by the World Health Organization (WHO) through the Federal Ministry of Health, focuses on maintaining the health and concentration of school-age children. She urged residents to embrace this initiative, stressing its non-political nature and emphasizing its role in safeguarding the well-being of children in the community.

“The message is clear: Accept the free medicine, keep the children healthy, and ensure a worm-free future for Lagos State”, She stated.

Speaking in the same vein, Senior Program Manager at Evidence Action, Mary Anne Edeh calls for sustained efforts in ending Neglected Tropical Diseases.  Standing in for her country director, Pharmacist Tope Ogunnubi, Edeh addressing the global movement’s theme, “Unite, Act, and Eliminate NTDs”, emphasized the need for concerted action to eradicate NTDs globally and in Nigeria.

With over one billion people affected by neglected tropical diseases, Edeh stressed the crucial role of sustained investment by the Lagos State Government, particularly through the Ministry of Health. Highlighting the positive impact of investing in NTDs, Edeh noted that sustainable financing is a success story in global health and development. “It not only keeps children in school but also enhances their performance, paving the way for a more productive adult future”, she noted.

Expressing gratitude for the ongoing partnership with the Lagos State Government, particularly through the Ministries of Health and Education, Edeh conveyed confidence in the commitment to eradicating and eliminating NTDs from Lagos State and Nigeria as a whole. She commended the Ministry of Health’s seriousness in addressing the issue and called for increased investments to strengthen the fight against neglected tropical diseases.

Executive Director of MITOSATH, Dr. Francesca Olamiju, also addressed the pressing issue of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) during the Y2024 World NTD Day Awareness Walk, shedding light on the profound impact these conditions have on marginalized communities.

Highlighting the preventable and treatable nature of NTDs, Dr. Olamiju emphasized their intricate ties to poverty and ecological systems, causing devastating health, social, and economic consequences. She pointed out the neglect these diseases face despite their significant global implications, leading to the declaration of January 30th as World NTD Day by the 74th World Health Assembly.

Speaking about Nigeria’s significant burden, accounting for 25% of Africa’s NTD cases, Dr. Olamiju underscored the collaborative efforts of the Federal Government, NGO partners, and the World Health Organization to eliminate all NTDs in the country by 2030.

Discussing Lagos State’s achievements, she commended the state for its proactive measures. Notably, Lagos received awards for implementing Schistosomiasis ward-level treatment and conducted a confirmatory mapping for Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) in 6 LGAs in 2023. LF treatment reached over 3.6 million individuals with a therapeutic coverage of 75% and geographic coverage of 100%.

Dr. Olamiju while urging continued efforts and adherence to the WHO NTD elimination roadmap in the pursuit of a disease-free future for Lagos State and beyond, announced the commencement of Schistosomiasis treatment in seven LGAs in alignment with this year’s theme: “Unite, Act & Eliminate Neglected Tropical Diseases.”