FG urges African ministers of health to fight NTDs
African Ministers of Health have been urged to work together in bringing the Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) into the Health Agenda of their countries.
This is contained in a statement signed by Mrs Boade Akinola, Director of Media and Public Relation, Federal Ministry of Health, and made available to newsmen in Abuja on Monday.
The statement said the Prof. Isaac Adewole, Minister of Health, made the call at the launching of the Expanded Special Project for Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases (ESPEN).
It said Adewole also urged his colleagues to ensure that NTDs are no longer neglected.
According to the statement, the programme is organised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Office for Africa (AFRO) at the ongoing World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland.
It said ESPEN, is new partnerships which will help African countries reduce the burden of NTDs, and will provide national NTDs with technical and fundraising support to help them control and eliminate NTDs.
The statement quoted the minister as describing NTDs as a disease of the poor and such efforts at reducing the burden must include poverty reduction.
The minister called on other ministers of health from Africa to take ownership of ESPEN, put it at the front burner and bring it under a robust domestic financing.
It said Nigeria will situate NTDs within the Primary Health Centres which is being revitalised in the country in order to provide Universal Health Coverage to Nigerians.
Universal Health Coverage is one of the flagship projects in the Change Agenda of President Mohammadu Buhari-led administration in Nigeria, it stressed.
The statement also quoted the Secretary General of WHO, Dr Margaret Chan, pledging to support African governments in moving ESPEN forward.
ESPEN will run from 2016 to 2020 and it is designed to work towards the control and elimination targets established by WHO as endorsed by the London declaration of 2012 on NTDs,’’ he said.
Dr Matchidiso Moeti, WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, also said the directorate would provide the relevant data, expertise and financial resources required to accelerate the fight against these diseases.
It said NTDs are a group of infections that place a heavy burden primarily on the poorest, most vulnerable communities in the world most of which are located in Africa.
These diseases are onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminthiasis and trachoma.
It is estimated that more than one billion people including more than 500 million children are affected by NTDs of which 40 per cent live in the African Region.
Nigeria accounts for 25 per cent of the African burden.The NTDs, though can be prevented and treated, yet they continue to disfigure and disable, destroying lives, preventing children from going to school and keeping communities in cycles of poverty,’’ the statement read in part.