N154bn Needed to Eliminate NTDs, says FG
The Federal Government has stated that N154bn is required to eliminate Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in the country.
The National Coordinator of NTDs Elimination Program of the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Chukwuma Anyaike, made this known in Ibadan, during a media dialogue organised by the United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF) for health journalists.
He decried the country’s over-reliance on foreign donations to support the NTDs interventions and programs, noting that more than 80 percent of the funding comes from international partners and donors.
Anyaike also noted that the low funding for the program is frustrating the fight against NTDs in the country, especially as at least 122 million Nigerians are at risk of at least one or more NTDs.
Neglected Tropical Diseases are a group of preventable and treatable diseases that could be caused by viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and affects 1.5 billion people globally. The NTDs in Nigeria are onchocerciasis (river blindness), trachoma, lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis), schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminthiasis, snakebite envenoming, rabies, buruli ulcer, leprosy, yaws, leishmaniasis, Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT), and guinea-worm disease.
He said, “I can tell you that if we have N154bn, we will be able to take care of NTDs according to our strategic plan.
“We, therefore, recommend that government at all levels release a proportion (0.05%) of the total budget annually to implement critical activities to fast track NTD elimination in Nigeria.
“Approximately 122 million people in Nigeria are at risk of one or more NTDs. In Nigerian, 20 percent of preschool children are affected, with 28 percent of school-age children between the ages of 5 – 14 years affected. 52 percent of adults from 15 years above are affected by NTDs.
“NTDs affect Nigeria negatively by promoting poverty, affecting children’s academic performances result in low productivity, poor nutritional status, and threatens food scarcity.
“Our focus is to have a country free of NTDs by putting measures in place to reduce morbidity and mortality rates to the barest minimum.”