By Emma Elekwa

Anambra State Government has identified River Blindness, Elephantiasis, Schistosomiasis and Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis – which includes Roundworm, Whipworm and Hookworms, as four major Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) endemic in the state.

Health Commissioner Dr. Vincent Okpala, who disclosed this to reporters on NTDs interventions to mark the 2022 World NTDs Day, lamented that every local government was affected by one or more of the diseases.

He described NTDs as preventable communicable diseases prevalent in areas with poor sanitation, inadequate safe water supply and sub-standard housing conditions, saying that the state was tackling the deceases.

Okpala said: “The state has been partnering the Carter Centre since 1995 to control and eliminate NTDs in communities in the state where over five million individuals are at risk of being infected with one or more diseases.

“NTDs are posing significant health challenges in communities in the state.

“About 16 local governments are endemic for River Blindness, 21 councils are endemic for Elephantiasis, 11 local governments are endemic for Schistosomiasis and 12 councils are endemic for Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis.

“The diseases are considered neglected because they enjoy little funding, almost absent from the global health agenda and are associated with stigma and social exclusion.

“More researches are still needed to identify other endemic communities not currently captured so they can be included in the treatment plan.”

He said the state, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and the Carter Centre, organised annual NTDs programme to treat 80 per cent of the state population of over five million projected to be at risk.

Encouraging residents to sleep inside mosquito bed nets to prevent vector transmitting diseases, Okpala advised them to go and receive NTD drugs as the drugs were free, safe and effective.

He further urged people to report any case of Elephantiasis, River Blindness, dog and snake bites to the nearest health centre.

The theme for this year’s World NTDs Day is: ‘Achieving health equity to end the neglect of poverty-related diseases’.

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