The Experts from the Federal Ministry of Health today said children were at the receiving end of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD), warning that 122 million Nigerians were at risk.
The National Coordinator, Neglected Tropical Diseases Elimination Programme, Dr. Chukwuma Anyaike who is also a Director in the Ministry of Health said as children were affected by NTD, their growth and education were negatively affected too.
He said when the breadwinners of families were affected by NTD, the consequence would be on the children might disrupt the lives of many children.
He said this at a 2-day Media Dialogue on Neglected Tropical Diseases Control in Nigeria organized by United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) in collaboration with Child Rights Information Bureau, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, held in Ibadan, Oyo State.
He said Neglected Tropical Diseases were also aiding and promoting poverty spread in Nigeria, reducing the productivity of the affected citizens and causing poverty. He said two out of every three Nigerians were at risk of NTD.
Anyaike NTD also constitutes a threat to food security in the country as it exposes farmers to danger.
He said farmers affected by NTD would not be able to carry out their farming and that it could lead to food scarcity.
Anyaike said adequate attention was not given to NTD because it affected the poor people, lamenting that when the diseases render those affected unproductive, their dependants, especially the children suffer, and poverty gains more ground.
Anyaike appealed to the government at all levels to pay more attention to NTD and increase the budget for it so as to save lives, banish poverty, and improve the economy.
He also urged the media to raise awareness of NTD by sensitizing the people about it. Anyaike appealed to all stakeholders to support the efforts to eliminate NTD, saying no investment in NTD was a waste.
The Programme Manager, Dr. Nicholas Olobio also warned that NTD portends danger to the citizens, including the children, and must be eliminated without delay.
A Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Specialist with UNICEF, Mr. Bioye Ogunjobi said adherence to proper hygiene and safe sanitation, including use of the toilet, regular hand-washing, and clean environment could assist in eliminating NTD.
UNICEF Communication Specialist, Dr. Geoffrey Njoku said the meeting was aimed at equipping journalists with useful information about NTD to enable them to sensitize the public about it.
Njoku urges participants to mainstream the issues around NTD to attract attention and prompt necessary actions going forward.
The Deputy Director, Child Rights Information Bureau who spoke on behalf of the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said the Federal Government was committed to eliminating NTD and ensuring good health for all citizens.