By Lami Ibrahim
No fewer than 3,667,265 persons were treated of River blindness (Onchocerciasis) in three years across the 21 local government areas (LGAs) of Kogi.
River blindness is a disease spread by repeated bites from infected black flies, mostly common in remote African villages.
The state’s Commissioner for Health, Dr Zakari Usman, disclosed this in Lokoja in commemoration of the 2023 World NTD day, with the theme: “Act Now, Act Together, Invest in NTDs”.
Usman said that: ”between 2020 treatment cycle and now, 3,667,265 persons were treated for Onchocerciasis in 21 LGAs”.
He added that: ‘Statistics from the 21 LGAs of Kogi have demonstrated that NTDs are of significant public concern to us too in the state and that onchocerciasis (River Blindness), Lymphatic filariasis, Schistosomiasis and Soil Transmitted Helminths are endemic in the state.
”With support from the Federal Ministry of Health, Donor Agencies Hundreds of Thousands of people have been treated for neglected tropical diseases using the donated Mectizan, Albendazole, Praziquantel, and Mebendazole.
”Between 2020 treatment cycle and now, 3,667,265 persons were treated for Onchocerciasis in 21 LGAs, and 2,107,705 in the 11 endemic LGAs treated for Lymphatic filariasis”.
The commissioner stressed that Kogi State was joining the World in marking this year’s World NTDs day because of its significance in the state, describing it as ”a milestone event.
”Following the declaration of 30th January, as world NTD Day every year by over 300 Global Health Leaders at the Second biennial Reaching the Last Mile Forum (RLM) in Abu Dhabi, it has become imperative for Kogi State to join the world in marking this edition of World NTD day.
”NTDs are diverse group of 20 Communicable diseases affecting about 1 billion people worldwide.
”NTDs are prevalent in tropical environments, especially communities with poor sanitation, lack of portable water and deficient health care access.
”They are called ‘neglected’ because they generally affect the world poorest and receives less attention than other diseases.
”NTD cause disability, stigmatization, School and work absenteeism, Low wage earning, increase health care spending, Family impoverishment, Low national productivity, Long-term suffering and death.
”NTDs pose a major obstacle to Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and remain serious impediment to poverty reduction, economic growth and Social development,” the commissioner said.
The commissioner stressed that the Ministry in collaboration with other partners as well as the media for continuous sensitisation especially at the grassroots.
Usman urged the residents to always engaged in everyday hand washing and proper hygiene as a way of preventing and controlling the NTDs in the state.
In her remarks, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Hajia Falilat Abdulrasak, congratulated the Ministry for the huge success the state had recorded in the treatment, and control of NTDs in the state especially in the rural areas.
Also speaking, the State Programme Officer, NTDs Control/Elimination/Eradication of the Ministry state, Nurse Albert Alabi, said the NTDs day was meant to create more awareness to the people.
Alabi said that the state was marking the NTDs day with various line up activities which started on Monday across the 21 LGAs of the state.
According to him, the activities include: advocacy visit to stakeholders, press briefing, awareness creation on NTDs and distribution of free Mectizan tablets.
The activities to mark the World NTDs day was organised in partnership with Sightsavers organisation.