Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) co-exist and are perpetuating diseases of poverty, even as Professor and Consultant, Medical Parasitologist at the University of Lagos Medical School, Lagos, Nigeria, Prof. Wellington Oyibo has urgent attention to break this cycle of diseases driven by poverty.

NTDs are a group of conditions that affect more than one billion people, most of whom live in marginalized, rural, poor urban areas, and conflict zones. Although preventable and treatable, these diseases and their intricate interrelationships with poverty and ecological systems continue to have devastating health, social, and economic consequences. Most neural tube defects occur in a chronic state in which affected people hardly realize they have a disease.

The most prominent NTDs in Nigeria are soil-transmitted helminth infections; schistosomiasis (intestinal and urinary); onchocerciasis; human African trypanosomiasis; leishmaniasis; lymphatic filariasis; trachoma; Rage; Buruli ulcer; Leprosy; Yaws (endemic treponematoses) and snakebite, among others.

Oyibo told me that malaria and NTDs occur together in almost every state in the country. For example, it revealed that an estimated 80 million to 121 million Nigerians are at risk of lymphatic filariasis, which requires mass drug administration, adding that 30 million and 29 million Nigerians are at risk of onchocerciasis and schistosomiasis, respectively. .

However, the parasitologist stated that these diseases will continue to persist if research in Nigeria is not directed at providing much-needed evidence to support interventions, especially where there are threats of drug resistance, poor or inadequate diagnostic tools, practices of poor case management. , acquisition and emerging virulence of organisms, among others.

In addition to research, free and affordable access to NTD services must be available to all in need and the burden of NTDs must be fully addressed, including treatment, disability management, and removal of stigma and exclusion. social, he stated.

“Investments in NTD are also an investment in reducing poverty and enabling individuals and their families to lead healthier, more economically productive lives. Sustainable financing is key to easing the burden of NTDs,” Oyibo said.

He called on critical stakeholders to act now and act together to end NTDs, adding that “it is our collective responsibility to confront inequalities and end these completely preventable diseases.

On what the University of Lagos (UNILAG) is doing to address NTDs, Oyibo revealed that the institution’s vice chancellor, prof. Folasade Ogunsola has endorsed the Kigali Declaration for the Elimination of NTDs adding that, “Through the Center for Transdisciplinary Research in Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases, UNILAG will use knowledge to combat NTDs that are critical for elimination as that the institution implements transdisciplinary research and multi-sectoral approaches to accelerate efforts to achieve NTD elimination goals. Our research, development and implementation activities will certainly support this process.”