Nigeria: Nigerian health officials partnering with international experts have embarked on a national programme to map Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) by analysing data obtained from 14 of the country’s 36 states. According to Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health, the country and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Tanzania — contribute to more than 50% of the NTDs burden in Africa, partly because they have climatic conditions that favour the diseases. Experts say common NTDs in Nigeria include schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminth infections, trachoma, onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis.
A team of international experts from UK-based London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine led by Simon Brooker, a professor of epidemiology, trained health officials on mapping in Abuja, Nigeria. “Mapping NTDs could facilitate the process of scaling up interventions in regions that make up the states known as local government areas. This process requires that epidemiological surveys be carried out and maps generated to visualise endemic areas for planning of interventions,” said Bridget Okoeguale, the director of public health in the Federal Ministry of Health. “Mapping of NTDs in Nigeria is very important and long overdue because it can help the country to adequately target rural communities that have many children who are suffering from various forms of NTDs,” said Uche Amazigo, a former director of the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control.