The World Health Organization (WHO) has significantly increased support to the Government of Nigeria towards elimination of five of the over 20 Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) endemic in the country due to her tropical nature.

This is in support of the country’s NTD roadmap developed in 2012, which prioritizes three diseases for control, five for elimination and two for eradication.

WHO’s present support is focused on NTDs that are controllable through mass drug chemoprophylaxis and involves supporting the Government in identifying all Local Government Areas (LGAs) with high disease burden, providing donated drugs for mass drug administration (MDA) for all such LGAs and monitoring the effectiveness of MDA activities.

For schistosomiasis (commonly called Bilharzia), a parasitic disease caused by a worm which enters the skin from infected water and lays hard/sharp eggs that damages organs as they spread; WHO provided over 60 million tablets of Praziquantel in 2017 for the 583 LGAs mapped to have high prevalence for this disease.

“I am so happy that I now urinate without seeing any blood in my urine,” says Habu Garu, an internally displaced person (due to insurgency) in Borno state and a beneficiary of WHO intervention that distributed nearly 12 million tablets of Praziquantel (a drug used to treat Schistosomiasis, one of the highly debilitating NTDs) to over 5 million children in the Northeast.

“For nearly two years, I kept seeing blood in my urine and was extremely traumatized. My friends used to mock me about it, calling it ‘male periods.’ I am so glad it is all over now”, a visibly elated Habu narrated.

As at December 2017, Nigeria accounted for nearly 50% of the global burden of NTDs with over half of the Nigerian population at risk to at least one of these diseases. The country is similarly implementing mass drug administration campaigns for Lymphatic Filariasis (LF), Soil Transmitted Helminthiasis (STH), Onchocerciasis (Oncho) and Trachoma, endemic in between 119 to 583 LGAs across Nigeria.

For more information please visit WHO Africa.