The National Lymphatic Filariasis Elimination Programme (NLFEP) of the Federal Ministry of Health, has revealed that an estimated 138 million people in Nigeria are at the risk of Lymphatic Filariasis (Elephantiasis).
Lymphatic Filariasis is a tropical, parasitic disease that affects the lymph nodes and lymph vessels. The disease is spread by infected mosquitoes.
The deputy director/programme manager, NLFEP, Dr Emmanuel Davies, stated this in his presentation at the media dialogue on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) Control in Nigeria, organised by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in collaboration with the ChildRights Information Bureau (CRIB) of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture with the Federal Ministry of Health, held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
NLFEP was established in 1997 with the mandate of eliminating Lymphatic Filariasis, which is a public health problem.
Meanwhile, UNICEF since 1991, has been supporting Onchocerciasis and Lymphatic Filariasis control interventions in 12 states using fund from UNICEF USA.
Davies noted that government has initiated several approaches in line with NLFEP mandate which include Mass Administration of Medicines (MAM) using Ivermectin (3mg) and Albendazole (400mg) given annually and Morbidity Management and Disability Prevention (MMDP).
He said the Ivermectin and Albendazole tablets are donated by Mectizan Donation Program (MDP) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) respectively.
Other approaches, according to him include Integrated Vector Management (IVM) and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH).
“Mapping (prevalence study) conducted between 2000 and 2018 in 774 LGAs showed that: 583 (75.3 per cent) LGAs are endemic for lymphatic filariasis (disease). 191 (24.7 per cent) LGAs are not endemic for lymphatic filariasis (disease),he explained.
According to Davies, MAM is on-going in 531 LGAs of 34 States and FCT. He, however, noted that the exercise has stopped in 51 LGAs of five States after conduct of transmission assessment survey (TAS) while one LGA (Kwaya Kusar) of Borno State is yet to commence MAM.
He said out of the 2,185 lymphoedema cases reported in 216 LGAs of 17 States & FCT, only 1,875 of them are being managed in 162 LGAs of 13 States & FCT.
He added that out of the 6,067 hydrocele cases reported in 248 LGAs of 18 States & FCT, only 5,114 of them had corrective surgeries in 208 LGAs of 15 States & FCT.
Devies expressed the FMOH’s readiness to solicit partners funding support to bridge gaps of Lymphatic Filariasis implementation.
Lymphatic Filariasis is one of the 15 Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in Nigeria. About 122 million people in Nigeria are said to be at risk of NTDs.
For his part, the national coordinator, NTDs Control Programme, Dr. Nseobong Akpan, identified lack of funds, awareness and epileptic release of funds for the elimination of the diseases as major setbacks.