OVER 165 million Nigerians, representing 84 per cent of the country’s population, currently need treatment for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), according to Nigeria’s NTDs Economic Impact Study.
The study which was commissioned by the END Fund and conducted by Deloitte Nigeria, said the Nigerian economy stands to reap $18.9 billion from its citizens and increased productivity if elimination of NTDs is achieved by 2030.
NTDs are diseases that occur mostly in tropical climate and are caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites and toxins.
According to Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDI), an international, not-for-profit research and development organisation, NTDs “disproportionately affect people who are already vulnerable – whether through poverty, marginalisation, geographic location or living conditions”.
It added that such diseases cause significant suffering, disability, and death.
Speaking with journalists in Abuja at the 2023 World Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) Day Town Hall Meeting, on Friday, January 27, the END Fund Senior Director of Public Affairs for Africa, Oyetola Oduyemi said the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020 brought setbacks to the fight against NTDs in Nigeria.
She blamed the country’s population growth and inability to sustain treatments during the early stage of COVID-19 for the increased number of 165 million against 2020 which was about 120 million.
“It was just a free for all and as a result, there was a significant increase in the number of people and that is why at present over 165 million Nigerians in need of treatment for one or more of these diseases”, she said.
Also speaking, National Coordinator of NTDs Elimination Programme, Nse Akpan said there is need to enlighten the populace about the scourge of NTDs.
“People were not given much attention to these diseases because they were believing that most times based on their traditional practices, it is not treatable because they believe it was caused by witchcraft”, he said.
Meanwhile, the Abuja Liason Officer of The Carter Centre, Sarah Pantuvo called on Federal Government to commit resources to the fight against NTDs.
Pantuvo said, “Nigeria doesn’t really have to depend on donor funders. The federal government also has to do a lot towards it. You can’t leave your programme for other people to implement for you as much as they tell.
“You also have to have a commitment of resources through counterpart funding to execute development projects in the country.”
Sinafi Omanga is a journalist with The ICIR. His Twitter handle is @OmangaSinafi and Email: firstname.lastname@example.org