138m Nigerians at risk of lymphatic disease – Expert


Photo: Dr Ehanire Osagie, Nigeria’s Healh Minister

No fewer than 138 million Nigerians are said to be at risk of Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) and if not addressed, may develop elephantiasis and swollen scrotum in men.

Mr Emmanuel Davies, the Deputy Director/Programme Manager, National LF Elimination Programme, Federal Ministry of Health, made this known at a media dialogue on Tuesday in Port Harcourt.

The Wikipedia defines Lymphatic Filariasis as a parasitic disease caused by microscopic, thread-like worms. The adult worms only live in the human lymph system.

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The disease is transmitted through the female mosquito bite, and the disease is considered globally as a neglected tropical disease, (NTD).

According to Davis, LF is one of the numerous diseases associated with NTDs found in the rural areas and with low-income earners in Nigeria and the African Sub- Region.

“Other NTDs which are chronic are Trachoma, Schistosomiasis, Soil transmitted, Helminthiasis, Onchocherciasis (River blindness) and are in the preventive chemotherapy categories.

“The rest in the case management NTDs categories are Snake bite, Dog bite (Rabies), Yaw, Trypanosomiasis (Sleeping sickness),“ he said.

He stated further that if this disease was not addressed quickly, the affected persons may come down with elephantiasis and swollen scrotums in men in the nearest future.

Mass Administration of Medicine (MAM), using ivermectin and Albendazole tablets, must be taken annually to prevent this disease in affected areas in Nigeria.

“Morbidity Management and Disability Prevention (MMDP) must be activated in states to ensure affected persons have basic healthcare, we must guide against mosquito bite.

“We must begin to take programmatic steps for interruption of LF transmission which Nigeria has modified and adapted.

“We must start doing assessment in LGAs that are due to stop treatment to meet the global elimination date of 2030,” said Davis.

He stated that the prevalence study conducted between year 2000 and 2018 in 774 LGAs in Nigeria, showed that 75.3 per cent LGAs were endemic for LF disease in 36 states and the FCT.

According to him, 24.7 per cent of LGAs in Nigeria are not endemic for LF disease.

He said there was need for mass administration of medicines of the at-risk population area in Nigeria.

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