By Hendrix Oliomogbe
Due to the rising cases of endemic Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) like Onchocerciasis, Soil-transmitted helminths and Lymphatic Filariasis in eight local government areas of Edo State, the state government has intensified efforts to tackle the problem by providing free drugs to patients.
The affected local government areas are Akoko Edo, Ovia North- East, Ovia South -West, Etsako East, Owan East, Esan South- East, Uhunmwode and Owan.
The Executive Secretary, Edo State Primary Health Care Development Agency (EDSPHCDA), Dr Otaniyenuwa Eloghosa Obarisiagbon, said the intervention programme was part of Governor Godwin Obaseki’s initiative at improving the delivery of quality healthcare service in the state.
Obarisiagbon said that the agency was partnering with the Carter Centre to provide free drugs in order to ensure that the state achieves reasonable control of the diseases in record time.
“Over the years, the Carter Centre has been supporting the Edo State government in combating the four neglected tropical diseases which include Onchocerciasis , Lymphatic Filariasis, Schistosomiasis and Soil-transmitted helminthes,” she said.
Edo State NTD coordinator, Mrs Happy Poko, explained that in tackling the diseases, it was necessary to reduce the morbidity caused by them in the endemic local government areas with a view to achieving their elimination by 2025.
Poko disclosed that Onchocerciasis is transmitted through repeated bites by black flies of the genus Simulium.
“The disease is called river blindness because the black fly that transmits the infection lives and breeds near fast-flowing streams and rivers, mostly near remote rural villages,’’ she said
“Lymphatic Filariasis is transmitted by the culex mosquito, especially in urban and semi-urban areas and anopheles mosquito, mainly found in rural areas. When lymphatic Filariasis develops into chronic condition, it leads to lymphoedema or elephantiasis of limbs and hydrocele, “ she added.
She noted that the disease “also affects the breasts and genital organs, body deformities which lead to social stigma and sub-optimal mental health, loss of income-earning opportunities and increased medical expenses for patients and their caretakers”.