Kaduna – Prof. Mohammed Mamman, the Director, Nigerian Institute for Trypanasomiasis Research (NITR) in Kaduna, has called for sustained funding to totally eradicate River Blindness in the country.
Mamman made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kaduna on Wednesday.
He said that the disease, caused by black flies, was still widespread in the country.
The director noted that although a lot of gains had been recorded in the effort to break the chain of transmission, more needed to be done to completely eliminate the disease.
“What is required now is to ensure that the distribution of drugs is wide spread to cover the endemics areas of the country.
“If any endemic areas are left unattended, it will still serve as a means for the disease to resurface in future.
“The most important issue is to ensure the wide spread distribution of the drugs in the risk areas and give the needed treatment for as long as it is required,’’ he said
Mamman said that the institute had carried out sensitisation campaigns in endemic areas on the causes of the disease and measures required to stop its spread.
According to him, most communities before now, attributed the disease to witchcraft and other superstitious beliefs hence the need for the sensitisation.
“The symptoms are pigmentation on human skin with distorted looks, like the appearance of lizard skin, itching, poor vision and irreversible blindness,” Mamman said.
The director explained that the black flies breed across the country in areas with fast flowing rivers and streams.
Mamman said that the institute was conducting a research to determine better ways of prevention and drugs required for treatment.
NAN reports that River blindness, also known as onchocerciasis, is spread by bites from black flies, which leaves the victim with lesion, different skin changes, poor vision and irreversible blindness. (NAN)