A World Health Organisation report on Neglected Tropical Diseases has shown that Nigeria and 15 other countries have the highest burdens of NTDs.
The report released on Monday noted that the 16 countries bear 80 per cent of the global burden of NTDs.
According to the report titled, “Global report on neglected tropical diseases 2023,” countries with the highest burdens of NTDs are also the countries in which population growth will be fastest.
The PUNCH reports that World NTD Day is commemorated every January 30, and the theme for this year is “Act now. Act together. Invest in Neglected Tropical Diseases.”
NTDs are a diverse group of 20 conditions that are mainly prevalent in tropical areas, where they affect more than one billion people who live in impoverished communities.
The diseases are caused by a variety of pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi, and toxins.
The WHO report noted that COVID-19 disruptions and financial constraints are not the only limiting factors on the way to reaching the 2030 targets and the only reasons for slow progress.
It said programmatic and organisational weaknesses needed to be addressed as well.
“First, high-burden countries should be progressing more rapidly; the burden of NTDs is unequal across countries, with 16 countries bearing 80 per cent of the global NTD burden.
“Compared to 2010, three of them saw increased numbers of people requiring NTD interventions as of 2021; another six countries had a decrease of 50 per cent or less; and the remaining seven had a decrease of more than 50 per cent.
“There is a need to focus on high-burden countries to make an impact at the global level.
“Second, the weakest disease programmes could compromise overall progress towards overarching targets: many countries are endemic for several NTDs; more than three-quarters of African countries, for instance, are co-endemic for at least five NTDs,” the report read in part.
“Countries with the highest NTD burdens are also the countries in which population growth will be fastest.
“The United Nations’ World Population Prospects 2022 project that more than half of the increase in global population up to 2050 will be concentrated in eight countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, and the United Republic of Tanzania.
“All are among the 16 countries with the highest NTD burden. There is a need to adequately address NTDs; the acceleration in the provision of NTD services needs to at least exceed the population growth rate,” it added.
In a related development, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said Nigeria has about 25 per cent of all NTDs in Africa, with millions of persons at risk.
“Nigeria has about 25 per cent of all NTDs in Africa, with millions of persons at risk: Lymphatic Filariasis (122 million), Onchocerciasis (33 million), Schistosomiasis (20.8 million), Soil-Transmitted Helminths (29.4 million), Trachoma (5.3 million), and Human African Trypanosomiasis (6.5 million), respectively.
“In the colonial era, the highest NTD rates were in Egypt and Yemen, with a significant number also in Iran and Algeria. It is now accepted that addressing social determinants of health like water, sanitation, and hygiene inadequacies are essential for NTD control and elimination.
“This must be promoted in Nigeria,” Ehanire said.
The minister added that the control and elimination of NTDs will significantly contribute to the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals in the country.
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