By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
Round worms (intestinal worms) one of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) in Nigeria accounts for poor academic performance in children.
Akwa Ibom State Coordinator of Neglected Tropical Diseases unit, Dr Aniekeme Uwah, who mentioned this during a road walk to mark the 2022 NTD day in Uyo on Friday, advised parents to allow their school-age children accept free drugs administered as prevention against NTDs.
Uwah, who is the Publicity Secretary of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), referred to the theme of this year’s event “Achieving health equality to end the neglect of poverty related diseases and thanked Helen Keller Foundation for supply and administration of free drug to communities and schools in the state.
“Let’s join hands to fight these illnesses. whenever drugs are distributed to communities, please accept them as they are without side effects. when your children go to school and are given a form which requires your consent for those drugs to be administered to them, please accept them. majority of parents reject those drugs but they are harmless to the children.
“Sometimes children who are affected by NTDs may find it difficult to do well in school. That is because intestinal worms sucks blood from their victims and such may affect their intellectual development
“Sometimes you may feed your child but without good health, even our pregnant women with NTDs may have issues with shortness of blood.
“Last year, we identified some cases of hydroxyl, a condition which enlarges the scruton, and cost of operation was about N300,000, we were able to identify and carry out free surgeries for 13 of them in partnership with Helen Keller, Ubotex and Hensek Integrated Services. For this year, we have so far identified two, we need to help our people,” he said.
In a press conference which preceeded the walk, Commissioner, Ministry of Health, Prof Augustine Umoh had identified the ongoing effort to rejuvenate the primary healthcare sector in Akwa Ibom State as one of the steps to tackle NTDs in the state.
Umoh had informed newsmen that 231 Primary Healthcare Centres in Akwa Ibom were earmarked to benefit from funds made available by the government to revamp the sector.
He blamed NTDs to poverty, poor hygiene and common in low-income populations in developing regions of Africa, Asia and the Americas.
“According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), they are prevalent in areas with a high level of poverty, poor sanitation, poor access to potable water supply, poor housing conditions, poor access to qualitative health care services and ignorance”. he said.
The Health Commissioner who recalled that in 2019, the Akwa Ibom State NTD programme achieved 75% therapeutic coverage in the five highest burden NTDs, admitted that much work still needed to be done in the area of sensitization of the general populace on the need for proper environmental sanitation, improved personal hygiene.
He also recommended discouragement of open defecation, drinking of clean and potable water, and reporting early for diagnosis and proper treatment.In his words, ” Furthermore, to give credence to the giant strides being recorded by the state in the fight against NTDs, in the second week of February, 2021a Pre-Transmission Assessment Survey (TAS) was conducted in Uruan LGA (a Lymphatic Filariasis endemic LGA) by the Federal Ministry of Health and the state passed. It is instructive to note that was the first time such an exercise was conducted in the state.
”A similar survey has also been conducted in Eastern-Obolo, Etim-Ekpo and Ikot-Ekpene LGAs in the state about a week ago and it is our hope that when the results are released by the Federal Ministry of Health, the state will still pass.”
He acknowledged the role of the National Coordinator and the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) NTD’s team in providing the needed drugs, support and supervision for the fight to control and eliminate NTDs in Akwa Ibom state.
On his part, the NTDs ambassador and Nollywood Actot, Ime Bishop Umoh (Okon Lagos) encouraged Akwa Ibom people to embrace the available medical professions and assured that NTDs are not caused by witches as superstitionsly propagated by the rural populace.