Anambra State Government has solicited the support of all community members and Local Government Authorities, in identifying fast-flowing rivers and streams in the state, for effective blackfly control.

The State Commissioner for Health, Dr Vincent Okpala made the appeal in Awka, during a briefing to mark this year’s World Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) Day in Anambra State on Tuesday.

NTDs are usually suffered by the majority poor population in the rural communities and due to neglect, the associated morbidity and disability usually deprive the individuals of the joy of their normal social life.

The theme for the 2022 World NTD Day is “Achieving health equity to end the neglect of poverty-related diseases.

According to the Health Commissioner, the year’s theme is to emphasize the need for greater efforts at salvaging the living condition of the many that still suffer from NTDs.

“Morbidity and Disability associated with NTDs lead to social stigmatization, low or no income, social withdrawal and poor standard of living for the affected individuals.

“Some of the affected individuals are actually unaware of the causes of their affliction.

“So Health Equity is a must for us.

“Public Health Awareness about NTDs and their associated health and socio-economic burden should be taken to every door post.

“Attention must be giving to rural dwellers to ensure that they receive quality and affordable health care services.

“Potable drinking water should be provided to them.

“Our Sensitization should go to all places, so that people will understand and collaborate with the program to implement preventive measures, and self-care which we hope will help reduce disease spread.

“For us to achieve a high percentage of the program objective, all hands mụst be on deck, using various channels to create awareness on NTDs will help.

“Let the Neglect of these diseases stop,” Okpala said.

The Commissioner revealed that four major NTDs are endemic in Anambra State, and every LGA is affected by one or more diseases including Onchocerciasis, Lymphatic Filariasis, Schistosomiasis, Soil Transmitted Helminthiasis.

He disclosed that NTD Implementation in Anambra State started since 1995 with Ivermectin Treatment in 16 Oncho LGAs, with the Implementing Partner, Carter Center, partnering with the State since 1995 till date.

He said; “Drugs distribution take place in all LGAs / all Communities, and twice a year treatment occur in 16 Oncho-LGAs, while LGAs that are hypo endemic are mectizan naïve until 2016 .

“Mectizan for Onchocerciasis, Mectizan+Albendazole for LF, Albendazole for Soil Transmitted Helminthiasis, Praziquantel for Schistosomiasis.

“Schistosomiasis treatment with Praziquantel takes place in schools and School Age Children 5 – 14 years are targeted.

“We plead with all parents to collaborate with NTDs and allow their children to be treated and for Private Schools to partner with NTDs Program during School Based treatment,” he pleaded.

Dr Okpala noted that in 2020, the total population targeted for NTDs treatment was 5,179,345, while the total number treated were 3,110,770 persons.

He revealed that Anambra passed Epid Evaluation Survey on Onchocerciasis for State Reclassification conducted in in 2020, saying the good news is that the Nigerian Disease Map has changed Anambra colour to TAN.

Anambra he said, has qualified after 25 treatment rounds and Entomological Evaluation Survey on Blackfly Vector was conducted in 2021, acknowledging however, that identifying blackfly breeding sites is still a problem.

“There is scale treatment in all LGAs, meaning that no endemic LGA is left untreated.

“There is high community participation, and drug acceptance by village members is also high.

“Community ownership is increasing on yearly basis.

“Because of the awareness at all levels, many people are now rushing to take NTD drugs from their Community Directed Distributors (CDDs).

“The geographic coverage and Epidemiological coverage after each year’s treatment is always 100% and above 65% respectively, indicating that drugs reached all endemic communities, and many community members receive preventive medicine.

“This threshold was achieved consecutively for the past 6 years qualifying the State for Transmission Assessment Survey,” he said.