At the launch of the Expanded Special Project for Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases, ESPEN, Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole called on African Ministers of Health to unite against Neglected Tropical Disease, NTDs, by including them in their Health Agenda, and ensuring that they are no longer neglected.

ESPEN is a new partnership to help African countries reduce the burden of NTDs. It will provide national NTDs with technical and fundraising assistance to help them control and eradicate NTDs.

The Minister announced plans by Nigeria to situate NTDs within the Primary Health Centers currently being invigorated in the country in order to provide Universal Health Coverage to Nigerians. He encouraged his colleagues to look into the limited available resources and re-prioritize its activities, work at getting better value for it and make more money available to the programme through prudent allocation of funds to all health related activities.

The NTDs are a group of infections that place a constant and heavy burden primarily on the poorest, most vulnerable communities in the world, most of which are located in Africa. These diseases are onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminthiasis and trachoma.

Nigeria accounts for 25% of the worlds one billion people (including more than 500million children) who are affected by NTDs. NTDs, though can be prevented and treated, disfigure, disable and destroy lives.

Author: Ope Adedeji