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FCTA flags off mass administration of medicines for NTDs

May, 2021 | By Prudence Okonna | ||

The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) through the Health and Human Services Secretariat (HHSS) has flagged off the 2021 mass administration of medicines for onchocerciasis is also known as river blindness and Lymphatic filariasis also called elephantiasis/hydrocele. These diseases belong to the group called the Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs); are parasitic and bacterial infections associated with poverty and prevalent in areas that have poor sanitation, inadequate or lack of safe water sources and sub-standard housing conditions. They are common in low income or developing countries of Africa, Asia and the Americas.

Flagging off the annual mass administration of the medicine at the Primary Health Care Center in Kuchingoro, FCT, the Acting Secretary, HHSS, Dr. Mohammed Kawu represented by the FCT State Epidemiologist, Dr. Doris John, said in 2019 a total of 785, 161 community members were treated for onchocerciasis disease, while 504, 877 community members received treatment for lymphatic filariasis disease. While the covid-19 pandemic hampered the exercise for 2020, for this year, however, the FCT NTDs Unit will coverer 559 communities for the treatment of onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis.

Adding that the approach employed by the Unit is the use of community-directed distributors (CDD) trained, known, and trusted by community members to administer the drugs to each household in the 559 listed communities in the FCT. Speaking on behalf of the Acting Director Public Health Department, the Deputy Director Disease Control, Musa Alhassan said the NTDs control program commenced in the FCT with onchocerciasis control activities in 1995 and Lymphatic filariasis in 2004. with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by FCT government with development partners, more control activities continued and currently, lymphatic filariasis is endemic in only Abaji, Bwari, Gwagwalada and Kuje while onchocerciasis is still endemic in all six area councils. Adding that the free distribution of drugs (Ivermectin and albendazole tablets) and insecticidal treated nets are to further prevent the spread of malaria and lymphatic filariasis.

The FCT NTDs Coordinator Eunice Ogundipe said the treatment is for those between the age of 5 and above for onchocerciasis disease known as river blindness as well as lymphatic filariasis disease also known as elephantiasis or hydrocele. At the end of this exercise, "we want the burden of these diseases to reduce drastically because we are at the verge of eliminating these diseases. The essence of this treatment is to create much-needed awareness and reduce the burden in the long run. Like in Kuje and Abaji, we are on the verge of eliminating these diseases. We have done transmission assessment survey one and two, we are waiting for the final results".

"One other way to drastically reduce the burden of these diseases is for government to provide basic sanitation amenities in communities that lack these, like a good source of water and for individuals to maintain good personal and environmental hygiene because these diseases strive in poverty and unhygienic environment," she emphasized Also speaking, Technical Specialist Christoffel Blinden Mission (CBM), Joseph Kumbur said "When people have lymphatic filariasis disease and they are not treated, it leads to enlargement of the limb or enlargement of the scrotal sac, limb enlargement cannot be treated but those who have hydrocele can be operated upon".< br/>
He added that CBM has gotten minimum support from the development partner, N-fund to support 60 hydrocele surgeries on the condition that FCT will contribute its own part. "We will be happy to see that those who are suffering from these morbidities get the relief that they need. This is what CBM stands for, supporting those that are downtrodden", he added.

Twenty NTDs have been listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) but Nigeria prioritized fifteen and only five of these are in focus and they include: Onchocerciasis (River Blindness), Schistosomiasis (snail fever or Bilharzias), Lymphatic Filariasis (elephantiasis and Hydrocele), Soil-Transmitted Helminths (Intestinal Worms), and Trachoma (Eye Infections). In the FCT, all six area councils are endemic for onchocerciasis while four area councils are endemic for lymphatic filariasis.

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