By Stephen Adeleye.
An international charity organisation, Sightsavers, in collaboration with Kogi Ministry of Health, have solicited the support of critical stakeholders towards the elimination of Neglected Tropical Disease (NTDs) in the State.
Dr. Francis Akpa, the Director Public Health, Kogi Ministry of Health disclosed during an advocacy visit to the new Ohinoyi of Ebiraland, Alh. Muhammad Tijani Anaje on Tuesday in Okene.
Akpa said that the advocacy was part of activities to mark the 2024 World NTD Day with the theme: “Unite To Act Towards Elimination of NTDs”, celebrated every January 30th.
“We are calling on the global community to unite and eliminate neglected tropical diseases, and also celebrating the success we have made on NTDs over the past 30 years in Kogi,” he said.
Akpa stressed that without the input of the traditional institution it would be difficult to reach communities through their distribution mechanism, and would not be able to achieve the desire success.
He congratulated new the Ohinoyi of Ebiraland on his Coronation, and lauded his unflinching support over the past decades.
He, therefore solicited for continued support and collaborations that would ensure the success of the NTDs in Kogi State.
Also speaking, Nurse Albert Alabi, the State Coordinator for NTD Control Programme, said the visit would enable them to intimate the new Ohinoyi of the scourge of NTDs, their programmes and activities.
“We also want to let the Royal father to know that the local government areas within his domain are more endemic of NTDs.
“So, we believe with his presence, voice and support, definitely there is going to be a change. We are also planning to make him one of the NTDs Ambassadors”, Alabi said.
He described NTDs as diseases that affect communities that lack access to portable water, poor housing and sanitation and poor nutrition.
According to him, NTDs include: trachoma, sleeping sickness, river blindness (Onchocerciasis), Dengue fever, hookworm, leishmaniasis, leprosy, lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis), trypanosomiasis, among others.
Alabi emphasised that the level of awareness was very low in Kogi, hence the need to step up awareness to let people know that the NTDs are ordinary and preventable, and not as a result of witchcraft or otherwise.
“The major challenge facing the elimination of NTDs is the issue of awareness and that is why we will continue to step up campaign on sensitisation and mobilisation towards eliminating NTDs in Kogi State,” he said.
On her part, Ms Phoebe Hindan, the Monitoring & Evaluation Officer of Sightsavers, commended Kogi Ministry of Health for its support and partnership which had made it possible to achieve huge success over the years.
She said that the partnership with the relevant stakeholders was to ensure that everyone was brought onboard to ensure the total elimination of NTDs in Kogi State.
“Sightsavers is an international charity working to prevent avoidable blindness, support equality for people with disabilities and advocate for change.
“Our goal is to prevent avoidable blindness and fight for the rights of people with disabilities.
“We campaign for disability rights so people with disabilities can participate equally in society.
“We also partner with the relevant stakeholders to eliminate NTDs because they lead to disabilities such as blindness, among others,” Bindan said.
She stressed the need to strengthen the system to ensure that the advocacy campaign and works of Sightsavers were sustained after the organisation’s exit in Kogi State.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that other activities carried out to mark the 2024 world NTD day included: visit to the State’s office of WHO, Campus walk at Federal University Lokoja (FUL) and Kogi State Polytechnic
Other were Radio Phone-in program, Panel discussion on NTDs at FUL and Advocacy visit and sensitisation on NTDs in the 21 LGAs of Kogi.