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Abia records progress in fight against neglected tropical diseases

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The Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) Programme in Abia says it has recorded significant success in tackling tropical diseases especially Lymphatic Filariasis (Elephantiasis) and River Blindness in the state.

Mr Solomon Offor, Abia Coordinator of NTDO said this on Saturday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in commemoration of the 2022 World NTD Day, in Umuahia.

NAN reports that the theme of the World Health Organisation (WHO) celebration is “Achieving health equity to end the neglect of poverty-related diseases”.

Lymphatic filariasis, commonly known as Elephantiasis, considered globally as a neglected tropical disease (NTD), is a parasitic disease caused by microscopic, thread-like worms. The adult worms only live in the human lymph system.

The coordinator said that several rounds of treatments and impact assessment to ascertain level of progress made in the fight against the diseases had been conducted.

“The impact assessment conducted in January 2021 revealed that only three persons tested positive for Lymphatic Filariasis out of 9,800 persons in 32 villages of 16 Local Government Areas of Abia that were tested.

“Also in October 2021, only one person tested positive out of the 3,556 persons that were tested for River Blindness.

“This forms the major reason for this year’s celebration for us and we are working to completely interrupt transmission of Lymphatic Filariasis and River Blindness,” he said.

Offor said that the state government had evolved strategies that would make NTD curative and preventive treatments easily accessible.

He said that the government had established structures to control and eliminate neglected tropical diseases in an integrated and cost-effective manner.

Offor said that the neglected tropical diseases common in the state include Lymphatic Filariasis (Elephantiasis), River blindness, Soil Transmitted Heliminthiasis and Schistosomiasis, a parasitic disease like malaria.

He said that the state government would not relent in ensuring proper eradication of these diseases from the state.

Offor urged the people of Abia to form cleaner habits that encouraged the practice of personal and environmental hygiene, adding that this was an effective strategy for tackling the scourge.

He urged the people of Abia to sleep under insecticide-treated mosquito nets to prevent the transmission of the diseases by mosquitoes.

Offor also urged the people to visit government-owned health facilities or Community Directed Distributors to collect tablets of Mectizan and Albendazole made available for the control of the diseases for free.

“I urge residents to use clean water, use only treated human faeces as fertilizer, practice personal and environmental hygiene, safe food preparation, keep waterways clean, stop open defecation and avoid swimming in contaminated water bodies,” he said.

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