Lagos Sets To Eradicate Schistosomiasis in 7 Endemic LGs ….commences mass administration of drugs

Benjamin Omoike

Lagos State Government is set to commence medical intervention campaign against Schistosomiasis; a neglected tropical disease which is endemic in seven local government areas of the State.

Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi, who disclosed this to newsmen during a press briefing held at his office during weekend explained that the State would commence mass administration of medicines for the control of Schistosomiasis in seven local government areas of the State.

He listed the local government areas as including, Ikeja, Ifako-Ijaiye, Amuwo-Odofin, Oshodi-Isolo, Agege, Lagos Mainland and Alimosho adding that health workers will go round schools, homes and other important places to administer on children between ages five and 14 from Monday 2nd  to Sunday, 8th December, 2019.

Abayomi emphasised that parents and guardians should ensure that their children and wards eat well before taking the drugs.

He noted that the administration of medicines for control of the disease during the weeklong campaign would be carried out by the State government in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health, World Health Organisation (WHO) and Mission to Save the Helpless (MITOSATH). 

Answering questions on the cause and mode of transmission, the Commissioner explained that Schistosomiasis, also known as snail fever and bilharzia, is a disease caused by parasitic flatworms called schistosomes and acquired when people come into contact with fresh-water infested with the larval forms of flatworms adding that the microscopic adult worms live in the veins draining the urinary tract and intestines.

He further stated that most of the eggs laid are trapped in the tissues and the body’s reaction to them can cause massive damage. 

Abayomi listed symptoms of the disease to include abdominal pain, diarrhoea, bloody stool, or blood in the urine with the possibility of death in the case of chronic schistosomiasis. 

The Commissioner said that neglected diseases such as Schistosomiasis causes significant implications for the wellness and wellbeing of the society and the people noting that development in any society cannot be sustainable without maintaining the the health of its citizens.

“To eliminate the disease, interventions in the general hygiene of the environment, nutritional status and strengthening public health systems at both the primary and secondary healthcare level would be deployed”, he added.

Abayomi explained that the diseases are generally termed neglected because they tend to be slow chronic diseases that don’t force patients to present and do damage slowly.

He added that government has no excuse to side-line the diseases as simple interventions on general hygiene, nutritional status and other basic things put in place at the primary and secondary health facilities can eliminate the diseases.

“We have no excuse to neglect these diseases because simple interventions put in place can eliminate the pathogens. By taking care of our hygiene, nutritional status as well as putting simple things in place will go a long way in eradicating the disease. That is why the present administration has put in place the one health approach to achieve optimal health outcomes,” he said.

Abayomi added that the state government would utilise its One Health Approach to improve citizens’ health and strengthen mechanisms that would eliminate neglected diseases in the state

He said that collaborative efforts between ministries of agriculture, environment and health would assist to ensure a well-nourished people and engender a clean environment to resist diseases.

Abayomi noted that elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases was linked to delivery on some of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as improving water sanitation, hygiene and reducing malnutrition.

He stressed the state’s commitment to scaling up programmes to achieve optimal health outcomes and also commended partners supporting its efforts to eliminate neglected disease in the state.

The Commissioner urged parents and caregivers to take advantage of the medical intervention and make their children available for the intervention.  

Earlier, Executive Director, Mission to Save the Helpless (MITOSATH), Dr Francesca Olamiju, said that the disease commonly affected school-age children who come into contact with it during their daily chores or at play in activities involving freshwater.

She said that from the mapping of the state, seven local government areas were shown to be endemic to schistosomiasis.

Olamiju listed the areas as; Agege, Alimosho, Lagos Mainland, Ifako Ijaiye, Oshodi-Isolo, Amuwo Odofin and Ikeja, adding that seven-day treatments would commence in the areas.

According to her, treatment with Praziquantel tablet would commence on Dec. 2 and would

focus on children aged five to 14 years old in the areas.

She appreciated the state for collaborating with MITOSATH to eliminate neglected disease in the state, and urged parents to cooperate with the caregivers by bringing their children for treatment.

Dr Olakunle Daramola, Director at the Federal Ministry of Health, said that public awareness and commitment to upscale hygiene would assist to eliminate neglected diseases, saying that disease-free society would catalyse development.

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