FG Declares Plateau, Nasarawa, Kaduna River Blindness-freeFG Declares Plateau, Nasarawa, Kaduna River Blindness-free

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...To clear Zamfara, Kebbi, Oyo, Bauchi

The Federal Ministry of Health has said it has been able to put an end to Onchocerciasis otherwise known as River Blindness in Plateau, Nasarawa and Kaduna States, adding that entomological studies are still ongoing to clear Zamfara, Kebbi, Oyo, and Bauchi States.


The ministry, in a statement issued by the Deputy Director (Media and Public Relations), Mrs. Ogundoro Modupe, said report of the National Onchocerciasis Elimination Committee (NOEC) indicated the interruption of the disease in Plateau, Nasarawa and Kaduna States, while entomological studies are ongoing to confirm the interruption in Zamfara, Kebbi, Oyo, and Bauchi States.


Quoting the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr. Abdulaziz Mashi Abdullahi, the statement said the implication of this achievement was that a total of about 4.2 million persons are no longer in need of mass administration of medicines for onchocerciasis in the disease endemic local government areas in Plateau, Nasarawa and Kaduna States.


“With these achievements, Plateau, Nasarawa and Kaduna States have joined other countries like Columbia, Ecuador, Guatemala and Mexico in the Americas and Awi Zone in Ethiopia in the interruption of transmission of River blindness,” the statement said.


The permanent secretary explained that nearly all states have maintained a minimum of 65 per cent therapeutic coverage for the last seven years, while overall treatment have risen from about 200,000 persons in 1991 to over 70 million by 2018, including people living in conflict areas.


According to Abdullahi, results have also shown a reduction of transmission of the disease in other states in the country.


He said the local government areas where transmission of the disease is on-going are conducting a twice-a-year treatment to fast-track the elimination of the disease.


Abdullahi said sustaining the momentum of the elimination may become more challenging as the clinical manifestation of the disease becomes increasingly rare.


He assured those involved that as the visual impairment, blindness and severe itching become less and the fatigue of the treatment sets in, innovative communication strategy is being employed to ensure that high coverage is maintained until the disease is eliminated in the country.


Onchocerciasis is a parasitic disease caused by small worms living in the body. It is transmitted by the bite of a black fly which is the carrier of River blindness.


Manifestations of the disease include severe and troublesome itching, hanging groin, thick and rough skin, and blindness.

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