Cases Of Leprosy In Nigeria Regrettable – Perm Sec
By Nedum Noble
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, Mrs. Ifeoma Anagbogu has described as regrettable the prevalent cases of leprosy recorded in the country.
She said it was sad that a country that pride itself as the giant of Africa could be talking about such related diseases in the 21st century.
Delivering a lecture on Monday titled, “Guinea Worm Eradication in Nigeria: lessons for researchers and policy makers” at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anagbogu also lamented the huge amount of money lost while cases of guinea worm disease persisted in the country.
She argued that there was no reason Nigeria should be associated with such neglected tropical diseases in view of the huge financial commitment and other modern logistics available in tackling the scourge.
According to the Permanent Secretary, the loss incured as a result of the disease was unquantifiable as the period of its transmission mostly coincided with the farming season, resulting to drastic reduction in farm produce.
“Each time people are down with the guinea worm, they can’t go to farm, while the children can’t go to school. School abseeism was high in highly endemic areas. The parents spent a lot treating their children.
“We recorded the highest cases of guinea worm in areas like Ebonyi state and you know the quantity of food stuff that are produced from the state. Nigeria really lost milloins of naira during the guinea worm scourge,” she decried.
She however recommended community based directed initiative where the programme would be owned by the people themselves, saying that such measure would not only be cost effective, but sustainable.
Earlier, the Vice Chancellor, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, urged Nigerian government to apply the feat used in eradicating guinea worm disease, to fight other health challenges bedevilling the country.
He described the official declaration of the country to be guinea worm free by the WHO in 2013, as a welcome development, urging the federal, state government as well as federal ministry of health to sustain the tempo.
He observed that Nigeria was tagged a guinea worm zone with over 600000 cases recorded at that period.
“From 653,820 cases of guinea worm disease reported in Nigeria in 1988 labelling the country the most heavily infected and endemic country globally,” he said.
The vice chancellor however, expressed joy that by 1995 the cases of guinea worm cases had dropped to 13,000, while the last reported case.
On his part, The minister of health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said the federal government has sustained work on the elimination and eradicate of guinea worm which would assist the ministry and other donor agencies to effectively contain other endemic diseases like lassa fever, polio and measles.
Represented by the Chief Medical Director, Nnamdi Azikiwe University teaching hospital (NAUTH), Prof. Anthony Igwebe, Adewole said the continued political will of government and donor agencies would go a long way to permanently eliminate the diseases from Nigeria shores.
He commended the department and the institution for organizing the lecture, expressing optimism that the knowledge garnered would help to inform and educate Nigerians on how to live better lives.