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Neglected Tropical Diseases: Edo govt, centre begin mass administration of medicine

The Edo State Government has intensified interventions to address endemic Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), especially Onchocerciasis, Soil-transmitted helminths and Lymphatic Filariasis, in eight Local Governments Areas (LGAs) across the state.

The Executive Secretary, Edo State Primary Health Care Development Agency (EDSPHCDA), Dr. Otaniyenuwa Eloghosa Obarisiagbon said the intervention programme is ongoing in Akoko Edo, Ovia North East, Ovia South West, Etsako East, Owan East, Esan South East, Uhunmwode, and Owan West LGAs.

According to her, “As part of the Governor Godwin Obaseki reforms to improve the delivery of quality healthcare, the agency is partnering with the Carter Centre to ensure that Edo achieves reasonable control in record time.”

While commending the Carter Centre for their continuous support in providing free drugs for treatment to the endemic LGAs, she noted, “Over the years, the Carter Centre has been supporting the Edo State Government in combating the four NTDs namely: Onchocerciasis (River blindness), Lymphatic Filariasis (Elephantiasis), Schistosomiasis and Soil-transmitted helminths.”

On her part, the Edo State NTD Coordinator, Mrs. Happy Poko, further noted that in addressing NTD, it is necessary to reduce the morbidity caused by NTDs in the endemic LGAs with the view of achieving their elimination by 2025, adding, “It is important to note that Onchocerciasis or river blindness is transmitted through repeated bites by black flies of the genus Simulium.”

“The disease is called river blindness because the blackfly that transmits the infection lives and breeds near fast-flowing streams and rivers, mostly near remote rural villages.

She said, “Lymphatic Filariasis is transmitted by the Culex mosquito, especially in urban and semi-urban areas and Anopheles mosquito, mainly found in rural areas. When lymphatic filariasis develops into chronic conditions it leads to lymphoedema (tissue swelling) or elephantiasis (skin/tissue thickening) of limbs and hydrocele (scrotal swelling). Involvement of breasts and genital organs is common. Such body deformities often lead to social stigma and sub-optimal mental health, loss of income-earning opportunities and increased medical expenses for patients and their caretakers.”

Also, the Director of the Carter Centre, Edo/Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Emukah said the centre remains committed to providing free medicines for the treatment of NTDs as they have always done in the past but urged the government to take full ownership of schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminth NTD programme in Oredo and Egor LGAs while ensuring that they will still support the government in providing the drugs for the treatment.

He urged members of the public to accept the drugs, noting that the people exempted from treatment are pregnant women; breastfeeding mothers with babies less than one week; people that are very sick; children aged 0-4years, and adults with stunted growth of not more than 90cm.