By Joshua Oriola
The Experts from Federal Ministry of Health today warned that 122 million Nigerians were at risk of NTD.
The National Coordinator, Neglected Tropical Diseases Elimination Programme, Dr Chukwuma Anyaike who is also a Director in the Ministry of Health said two out of every three Nigerians are at risk of NTD.
He noted that children were often at the recieving end of NTD, saying when children affected by NTD, their growth and education would be affected too.
He also said when the breadwinners of families were affected by NTD, the consequence would be on the children and might distrupt their lives and future.
He said this at a 2-day Media Dialogue on Neglected Tropical Diseases Control in Nigeria organised by United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) in collaboration with Child Rights Information Bureau, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, held in Ibadan, Oyo State.
He said Neglected Tropical Diseases were also aiding and promoting poverty spread in Nigeria, reducing the productivity of the affected citizens and causing poverty. He said two out of every three Nigerians were at risk of NTD.
Anyaike NTD also constitute threat to food security in the country as it exposes farmers to danger.
He said farmers affected by NTD would not be able to carry out their farming and that it could lead to food scarcity.
Anyaike said adequate attention was not given to NTD because it affected the poor people, lamenting that when the diseases render those affected unproductive, their dependants, especially the children suffer and poverty gains more ground.
Anyaike appealed to government at all levels to pay more attention to NTD and increase budget for it so as to save lives, banish poverty and improve the economy.
He also urged the media to raise awareness of NTD by sensitizing the people about it. Anyaike appealed to all stakeholders to support the efforts to eliminate NTD, saying no investment on NTD was a waste.
The Programme Manager, Dr Nicholas Olobio also warned that NTD potend danger to the citizens, including the children, and must be eliminated without delay.
A Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Specialist with UNICEF, Mr Bioye Ogunjobi said adherence to proper hygiene and safe sanitation, including use of toilet, regular hand-washing and clean environment could assist in eleminating NTD.
UNICEF Communication Specialist, Dr. Geoffrey Njoku said the meeting was aimed at equipping journalists with useful information about NTD to enable them sensitize the public about it.
Njoku urges participants to mainstream the issues around NTD to attract attention and propmt necessary actions going forward.
The Deputy Director, Child Rights Information Bureau who spoke on behalf of the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said the the Federal Government was committed to eliminating NTD and ensuring good health for all citizens.