Elephantiasis elimination: Lagos targets 3.9M residents

Elephantiasis elimination: Lagos targets 3.9M residents

  • Commences mass administration of medicine 

Lagos State Government in partnership with a non-governmental organization, Mission to Save the Helpless, MITOSATH, has commenced mass administration of free Ivermectin and Albendazole medicines to residents for the elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) also known as Elephantiasis in six local government areas of the State.

Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr. Olusegun Ogboye who flagged-off the campaign for the mass administration of medicines (MAM) for the elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis in Alausa-Ikeja, Thursday, stated that the goal of the MAM campaign is to treat 3,952,904 individuals in six LGAs with Ivermectin and Albendazole medicines.

He said: “Our goal is to treat 3,952,904 individuals, achieving 80% therapeutic coverage and 100% geographic coverage in the six identified prevalent LGA of Eti-Osa, Ikorodu, Kosofe, Mushin, Oshodi-Isolo and Surulere”.

Ogboye disclosed that medicines for the elimination of LF in Lagos State would be administered to individuals aged five years and above through implementers who will carry out house-to-house campaign visits in the aforementioned LGAs between Wednesday 30th of August and Sunday 3rd of September, 2023.

“I implore all residents to seize this opportunity and access the free medicines, Ivermectin and Albendazole that will be made available during the mass administration campaign. These treatments began yesterday, Wednesday, August 30th, to Sunday, September 3rd, 2023 across the six LGAs. I cannot stress enough the importance of taking advantage of this initiative to protect your health, and well-being of your loved ones”.

Ogboye explained that lymphatic filariasis is a parasitic infection transmitted through infected mosquito bites, adding that the disease is a debilitating Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) that causes profound physical and emotional suffering to those affected during its manifestation stage.

“The Lagos State Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and MITOSATH has embarked on a significant endeavor to eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis, commonly known as Elephantiasis in Lagos State”, He said.

The Permanent Secretary disclosed that comprehensive efforts to combat NTDs in Lagos State began in 2003 when nine Local Government Areas were mapped, adding that the mapping process continued in 2011, identifying the remaining eleven LGAs as endemic.

“Among these, six LGAs were found to have varying levels of LF prevalence, as confirmed by the confirmatory mapping conducted in February 2023, supported by MITOSATH, Sightsavers and the Federal Ministry of Health. This underscores the significance of NTDs as a public health concern and the need for our commitment to combat their impact in Lagos State”, He explained.

Ogboye advised residents who exhibit symptoms of LF to visit governmental facilities closest to them to register for free surgical intervention and management of disease.

Early detection and appropriate care can significantly improve outcomes and minimize the impact of LF on quality of life. Together, let us join hands in the fight against Neglected Tropical Diseases and bring relief and hope to millions of people affected by these debilitating conditions”, the Permanent Secretary stated.

Earlier in her remarks, the Executive Director, MITOSATH, Dr. Francisca Olamiju explained that NTDs are communicable diseases that have long been associated with poverty due to their prevalence in areas with inadequate sanitation, water supply, and substandard housing conditions.

She noted that the endemicity of lymphatic filariasis; a debilitating Neglected Tropical Disease in Lagos State, was verified through a confirmatory mapping conducted in six LGAs in February, 2023.

“This mapping reaffirmed the significance of LF as a public health concern in these six LGAs, therefore this Mass Administration of Medicines intervention is a show of the commitment of Lagos State and MITOSATH to the goal of elimination of NTDs in Lagos State”, Olamiju said.

She implored residents of the six endemic LGAs – Eti-Osa, Ikorodu, Kosofe, Mushin, Oshodi-Isolo and Surulere, aged five years and above to come out and access the free Ivermectin and Albendazole medicines for the treatment and elimination of the disease.

“MITOSATH as a supporting partner will continue to support NTDs elimination goal in line with World Health Organization roadmap, until the diseases are no longer of public health importance”, Olamiju stated.

Speaking in the same vein, the Director Epidemiology, Biosecurity and Global Health in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Ismail Abdus-Salam said that NTDs has continued to afflict over one billion people globally, primarily in developing regions of Africa, Asia and South America.

He noted that Nigeria bears a heavy burden of NTDs, accounting for 25% of Africa’s NTD cases adding that 774 LGAs in Nigeria are endemic for one or more NTDs, putting over 120 million individuals at risk.

“As we recognize the importance of human resources in Nigeria’s economy, it becomes crucial to address these diseases and improve the well-being of our people”, Abdus-Salam said.

The Program Manager of National Lymphatic Filariasis Elimination Programme, Mrs. Chinwe Okoye stated that the Mass Administration of Medicines signifies the Federal and Lagos State Government commitment to tackle lymphatic filariasis head on stressing that the campaign is a testament to what can be achieved when governments, healthcare professionals, non-governmental organizations and communities come together with shared vision.

“The success of this campaign hinges on various key factors, especially, the dedication of community implementers and healthcare workers, which cannot be understated”, She said.

 

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