HEALTH: MITOSATH, LASG To Scale Up NTDs Intervention In Endemic LGAs 

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The Lagos State Government is set to scale up interventions for endemic Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), especially Schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminth, in local governments and wards with the prevalence of the diseases, the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi has said.

Abayomi, who made this known today at a Data Dissemination Workshop on Schistosomiasis Implementation in Lagos State organised by the Federal Ministry of Health, in collaboration with Lagos State Ministry of Health and a non-governmental organisation, Mission to Save the Helpless (MITOSATH), noted that the intervention aimed at the control and elimination of NTDs will be accorded the priority it deserves, as part of the State government’s disease surveillance control programmes and policies.

The Commissioner, represented at the event by the Director, Epidemiology, Biosecurity and Global Health, Dr. Ismail Abdul-Salam, explained that adequate budgetary provision has been made for various NTDs activities outlined for implementation by the Neglected Tropical Disease Unit of the State Ministry of Health as part of the scale-up of interventions.

He said: “The Lagos State Government is giving priority, support and consideration to the control and elimination of NTDs. The headship of the State Ministry of Health and Primary Health Care Board are passionate about the control of NTDs and we are now more committed to ensuring that we achieve reasonable control in record time”.

“We know that Lagos State has a high prevalence of some Neglected Tropical Diseases, especially Schistosomiasis, in some of our local government areas. We have several diseases on the list of NTDs and the level of endemicity varies from one LGA to another”, the Commissioner averred.

While expressing satisfaction at the successful implementation of the Y2019 Mass Administration of Medicines against Schistosomiasis sponsored by MITOSATH and WHO, Abayomi noted that late commencement of NTDs interventions in Lagos has not deterred the State government from showing exemplary leadership to other States.

He disclosed that the State government has taken a cue from lessons learnt from the Y2019 Mass Administration of Medicines against Schistosomiasis to rejig interventions targeted at control and elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases in Lagos.

The Commissioner, however, appealed to partners to support the State government in the drive towards the control of NTDs by targeting identified gaps in various NTDs interventions for effective strategic and effective implementation.

“NTDs are common in environments where there are issues of water, this is why sanitation and hygiene are very important. These are issues that if taken care of, we will have a much-reduced prevalence of NTDs. It is also in view of this that relevant MDAs are involved in our interventions because some of the interventions are carried out for school-age children at the ward and community level”, Abayomi said.

Earlier in her remarks, the Executive Director of MITOSATH, Dr. Fransisca Olamiju, said Lagos State is the first in Nigeria to implement Mass Administration of Medicines against Schistosomiasis using ward level strategy, which has been found to be very effective.

According to her, the dissemination workshop has afforded various NTD stakeholders and partners the opportunity to share the knowledge, best practices and lessons learnt from the implementation of Mass Administration of Medicines in Lagos State.

Olamiju added that the implementation of Mass Administration of Medicines afforded the State government and implementing partners to introduce ward level strategy interventions for immunisation programmes and other health interventions alongside the LGA based intervention.

While noting that another campaign for Mass Administration of Medicines against Schistosomiasis would soon commence in some endemic wards in Lagos State, the Executive Director posited that safe water, good sanitation and hygiene, especially proper and regular handwashing practice, including putting an end to open defecation, is vital to eliminating Schistosomiasis.

Olamiju also appealed for a private sector engagement for the elimination of the disease, adding that they should always remember that there is an NTD burden in Lagos as they look at their corporate social responsibility.

Representative of the World Health Organisation, Dr. Sulaiman Aliyu, stated that WHO remains committed to providing free medicines for the treatment of Neglected Tropical Diseases.

“The World Health Organisation is committed to providing all the medicines. Year after year WHO facilitates the donation of millions of tablets for the Neglected Tropical Diseases”, he said.