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Ignorance Exacerbates the Burden of Tropical Diseases in Nigeria-Experts

According to experts, ignorance, mythology and stigmas continue to cause the Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) epidemic in Nigeria, putting more than 122 million Nigerians at risk.

Neglected tropical diseases are a group of preventable and curable diseases that kill millions of people around the world each year, cause disability and permanently inflict disability, but some experts Citizens have revealed a lack of knowledge about what they are or how they can contract.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified 20 NTDs, 14 of which are endemic to Nigeria. Among them are treponematosis (Yaws), lymphatic filariasis (leprosy), leprosy (leprosy), Chagas disease, human African tripanosoma disease (sleep disease), onchocerciasis (river blindness), schistosomiasis. (Birhaldiosis) is included.

According to available data, NTDs are common in tropical or subtropical areas due to poverty, poor sanitation, lack of safe water sources, substandard housing conditions, poor medical access, and more.

They are called ignored because they are common among the oppressed, low-income, and rural people of Nigeria. Almost all local governments across the country are endemic.

However, among other myths and misconceptions, it is often dismissed as witchcraft, edema (swelling), or addiction. Therefore, victims seek help outside of medical facilities, which further exacerbates the condition.

Read again: 122 million Nigerians at risk of NTD

Mordecai Israel, NTD coordinator in Rivers, said the fear of stigma and exclusion was also a major factor preventing people diagnosed with these conditions from using them for treatment.

This was the case for a 45-year-old mother of nine Gloria Perry (not her real name) who fights lymphatic filariasis, commonly known as elephantiasis. This is an infectious disease that occurs when heartworm parasites infect humans through mosquitoes.

Perry told Business Day that he was afraid of stigma and had difficulty accessing care. She added that her trivial trading business suffered due to reduced sponsorship.

In addition, Perry, from the state’s Ogboro municipality, told her that when the condition began, edema and the people around her told her it was a mental problem or she must have poisoned her. , She said she had rejected the swelling of her legs until her condition worsened.

“My condition began in October 2009 after I delivered it. I didn’t understand what it was. They said it was a mental problem. I didn’t take any medicine, I went to church, the minister prayed for me several times, he poured holy water, and his legs went down. But after the third time, his legs stopped descent. It got worse. “

I’m in pain and can’t move. When I went to the hospital, I was embarrassed because they drove me away and said I couldn’t handle my case. I’m a trivial merchant, but people stop patronizing me and they keep staring at my feet, “she added.

Perry lived for years without treatment until he finally relied on self-medication.

Like Lucy, Israel said hundreds of patients refused to seek appropriate treatment for their condition because of ignorance, mythology, misunderstandings, and fears of stigma and exclusion.

Israel says 13 of its 23 municipalities, the LGA in Rivers, are endemic to elephantiasis, while more than 138 million Nigerians are at risk for the disease nationwide. I reported.

The coordinator reiterated that early detection can help tackle neglected tropical diseases, but ignorance and misunderstandings continue to stagnate, especially in addition to lack of funding.

Nse Akpan, the national coordinator of the Neglected Tropical Diseases Eradication Program, pointed out that apart from the pain that neglected tropical diseases cause to patients, there are also economic, health and social implications for Nigeria.

Akpan stated this in a two-day media dialogue hosted by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRIB) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Port Harcourt.

He emphasized that the NTD promotes reduced productivity, health complications, and poor educational outcomes.

Nigeria, on the other hand, has set a goal of eradicating neglected tropical diseases by 2030, which is threatened by the factors mentioned above. Nigeria has successfully eradicated Guineaworm disease (GWD) out of the 15 NTDs prevalent in the country. The country received GWD-free certification from the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2010.

Akpan notes that it fuels tropical diseases that are neglected in poor sanitation. He said the community needed to be mobilized to take appropriate action. He said this could be achieved using different channels of the media.

But he regretted that even the available funds were often not released on time and were still highly dependent on foreign donations.

“We call ourselves African giants, but we’re actually surviving with donor funding. We’ve been allocated federal funding, but we’re still helping donors. Liberation is epilepsy because it is being enjoyed. The time will come when Nigeria will not see donor support, “he said.

He reiterated that he had to improve his awareness and funding to eradicate the disease.

However, UNICEF WASH specialist Bioye Ogunjobi has blamed the state’s attitude towards drugs donated to treat and manage millions of naira worth of NTD.

According to him, the high dose of about 500 million tablets of medicines, including ivermectin and albendazole donated by UNICEF, failed to fund the state’s fight against NTD and provide logistics funding, he said. It is wasted every year. medicine.

Therefore, he urged all state governments to prioritize and step up investments to eradicate neglected tropical diseases.

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Ignorance Exacerbates the Burden of Tropical Diseases in Nigeria-Experts Ignorance Exacerbates the Burden of Tropical Diseases in Nigeria-Experts

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