A World Health Organization report on neglected tropical diseases has shown that Nigeria and 15 other countries have the highest burden of neglected tropical diseases.

The report released Monday noted that the 16 countries bear 80 percent of the global NTD burden.

According to the report titled “World Report on Neglected Tropical Diseases 2023”, the countries with the highest burden of neglected tropical diseases are also the countries where population growth will be the fastest.

the punch reports that World NTD Day is commemorated every January 30 and this year’s theme is “Act now. Get organized. Invest in neglected tropical diseases.”

NTDs are a diverse group of 20 conditions that are prevalent primarily in tropical areas, where they affect more than a billion people living in impoverished communities.

Diseases are caused by a variety of pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi, and toxins.

The WHO report noted that the disruptions and financial constraints of COVID-19 are not the only limiting factors on the path to reaching the 2030 targets and the only reasons for slow progress.

He said that programmatic and organizational weaknesses also needed to be addressed.

“First, high-burden countries should progress faster; the NTD burden is uneven between countries, with 16 countries bearing 80 percent of the global NTD burden.

“Compared to 2010, three of them saw an increase in the number of people requiring NTD interventions starting in 2021; six other countries had a decline of 50 percent or less; and the remaining seven had a decline of more than 50 percent.

“You need to focus on high-burden countries to have a global impact.

“Second, weaker disease programs could compromise overall progress toward overall goals: many countries are endemic for multiple NTDs; more than three quarters of African countries, for example, are co-endemic in at least five NTDs,” the report read in part.

“Countries with the highest NTD loadings are also the countries where population growth will be fastest.

“The United Nations World Population Prospects 2022 project that more than half of the world population increase to 2050 will be concentrated in eight countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, and the United Republic of Tanzania.

“They are all among the 16 countries with the highest burden of NTDs. There is a need to adequately address NTDs; the acceleration in the provision of NTD services must at least exceed the rate of population growth,” he added.

In a related development, Health Minister Osagie Ehanire said Nigeria has about 25 percent of all NTDs in Africa, with millions of people at risk.

“Nigeria has about 25 percent of all NTDs in Africa, with millions of people at risk: lymphatic filariasis (122 million), onchocerciasis (33 million), schistosomiasis (20.8 million), soil-transmitted helminths (29 .4 million), trachoma (5.3 million) and Human African Trypanosomiasis (6.5 million), respectively.

“In the colonial era, the highest rates of NTDs were in Egypt and Yemen, with significant numbers also in Iran and Algeria. It is now accepted that addressing the social determinants of health, such as inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene, is essential for the control and elimination of NTDs.

“This needs to be promoted in Nigeria,” Ehanire said.

The minister added that the control and elimination of NTDs will contribute significantly to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in the country.