Event marks progress of partners working together to eliminate Neglected Tropical Diseases in Nigeria

10 May 2016

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The Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria and The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust Trachoma Initiative are jointly hosting an event on the 10 May 2016 to celebrate the collaboration and progress made by the government, donors and non-government organisations towards meeting the Neglected Tropical Disease elimination global targets.

More than 100 million people in Nigeria are at risk of getting or have an untreated Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD). NTDs are poverty related and degenerating diseases. They include diseases such as trachoma, leprosy, buruli ulcer, elephantiasis, soil transmitted helminthes, schistosomiasis and river blindness among others. These diseases can be treated and prevented but are known to affect the poorest, most marginalised, and most remote communities in the world. They thrive where access to potable water, sanitation and hygiene, healthcare and good housing conditions are limited or even totally lacking. Their impact on individuals and communities can be devastating. Many of them cause severe disfiguration and disabilities. They impact negatively on life expectancy, education and economic opportunities of affected individuals and the communities they live in. Nigeria bears 25% of the NTD burden in the African sub region with some of the NTDs being the highest number of reported cases globally.

The Federal Ministry of Health is currently working with a number of donor countries and organisations, as well as NGO partners on programmes to eliminate 10 NTDs in the country as part of the World Health Organisation global targets for NTD control and elimination by 2020.  There have been modest achievements made in the control and elimination of these NTDs in Nigeria like the eradication of Guinea worm disease in Nigeria and interruption of transmission of Trachoma and Lymphatic Filariasis in Plateau and Nassarawa States.

With a common resolve, elimination of these NTDs in Nigeria will contribute to the achievement of the Government’s transformation agenda towards the achievement of improved and sustainable health outcomes.

Since 2014, The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust Trachoma Initiative has supported the Nigerian government, working with members of the International Coalition for Trachoma Control (ICTC), and coordinated by Sightsavers, to eliminate blinding trachoma.

Trachoma is caused by a bacterium called Chlamydia trachomatis and it affects both children and adults. If not treated, trachoma can lead to blindness. About 12.5 million people live in 65 trachoma endemic LGAs in Nigeria.

The Trust programme is in eight of the most trachoma endemic Local Government Areas in Katsina State and aims to provide surgery to those with trachoma trichiasis (TT), the advanced stage of the disease. This simple operation corrects their in-turned eyelashes and prevents further damage to the eye which could eventually cause blindness. The programme also trains surgeons, nurses, hospital assistants and community volunteers to recognise the symptoms of trachoma and refer people at household level to the nearest eye clinic.

Other collaborating partners attending the event include the UK Government’s Department for International Development, USAID and The Gates Foundation funded Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases and other NGDOs supporting NTDs in Nigeria