Expert Warn On Dangers Of NTDs If Not Tackled Through Research, Other Interventions

Prof. Wellington Oyibo, College of Medicine, University of Lagos

A Consultant Medical Parasitologist, Prof. Wellington Oyibo says  Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) will continue to persist in Nigeria and Africa if research from affected countries is not directed to providing the much-needed evidence to support the interventions.

He added that the development was especially where there are threats of drug resistance, poor or inadequate diagnostic tools, poor case-management practices, as well as emerging virulence of the organisms.

He also cited increasing spread and sometimes poor uptake of the interventions,  in affected communities, procurement, and supply management tissues amon.

Oyibo who is also the Director, of the Centre for Transdisciplinary Research in Malaria and NTDs, University of Lagos stated this during the celebration of the 2023 NTDs Day in the university.

The theme of this year’s celebration is: Act Now, Act Together and Invest Neglected Tropical Diseases.

“Today, the Centre for Transdisciplinary Research in Malaria and NTDs in UNILAG is celebrating the 2023 NTDs Day.

“The day is celebrated every 30th of January to draw attention to the diseases and the way forward.

“Some of these diseases include Schistosomiasis (intestinal and urinary), the Chagas disease, rabies, dengue and chikungunya, snake bite, trachoma, leprosy, roundworms yaws and others.

“Every complex problem requires a more engaging solution, just like a systemic problem requires a systemic approach,” he stated.

 Oyibo stated that there was a need for a strong resilient health system that would prove as the likely key to teaching the citizens quality health services.

He pointed out that the role of academic and research institutions was to bring to bear, the role of transdisciplinary research in malaria and NTDs use of knowledge, to combat the NTDs which are critical to the elimination.

“We need also to deploy transdisciplinary research and multisectoral approaches in accelerating efforts to achieve the NTD elimination targets.

“Our research, development and implementation activities will no doubt support this process because our mission is to accelerate basic and applied research, development and innovation for malaria and NTDs toward the attainment of national and global targets,” Oyibo added.

According to him, because of UNILAG’s commitment to making an impact and being involved in the activities that would drive and accelerate the attainment of the elimination of the target in the country,  such goal, it has, through its Vice Chancellor, Prof. Folasade Ogunsola, endorsed the ‘Kigali Declaration’.

“The vice chancellor through this has made her bold commitment to the combatting of the NTDs.

She will be joining global leaders that had made the commitment before.

“She is doing that based on the understanding that UNILAG has the capacity, interest, as well as taking up responsibilities to support NTDs control to elimination with knowledge, through research.

“This time, it is not just research, but Transdisciplinary research because of the unique requirement or needs for the diseases that every discipline counts.

“Apart from discipline, the stakeholders that are involved or the strategic partnership that is involved must be fully mobilised. She is confident of this, as she is endorsing the declaration.

“She is saying UNILAG will join and also deploy research innovation and other solution-targeted measures to be able to make a difference in the landscape of NTDs in Nigeria,” Oyibo stated.

The don further stated that the World Health Organisation (WHO) had identified about 21 of the diseases under review, adding that those that are yet to be noticed were specifically because they needed a temperate environment for them to thrive.

He added there were others that existed but are not properly prescribed, because full attention was not being focused on them.

Malaria and NTDs experts further noted that it was only when they are seen that they could be reported on.

“For instance, in the case of chikungunya, it is a virus, found in many countries in Africa and has been seen in a few more places. But how much of this chikungunya is known to be associated with the NTDs, we do not know.

” And this is what research should be able to do. For the common NTD, we have the roundworms that normally affect children and they are of various types.

“One of the things roundworms do is that in most cases, the child will not be sick but it will interfere with the growth of the child. The child becomes stunted and then of course distorts cognition. Learning capacity will be challenged.

“These worms are usually long-lasting in their victims, staying for as long as five to 10 years if there is no deworming.

“There is also Schistosomiasis transmitted by a kind of snail. It is not the common snail that we find in some of our delicacies, but a particular type, small in size found in lakes and in some places where there are rivers.

“People get it when they go to streams or when padding through a road that leads to another nearby village,” Oyibo explained.

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