Ondo govt worries over rising tropical diseases, as OSPHCDA, MITOSTATH organize free treatment of lymphoedema, elephantiasis patients


By: Samuel Ajide

In an effort to curtail some tropical diseases across the State, the Ondo State Primary HealthCare Development Agency, OSPHCDA, the State Ministry of Health in partnership with Mission To Save Helpless, MITOSATH, has warned residents to prevent all contagious diseases which can be transmitted through biting insects.

Some Health Experts gave the warning at the  second phase of Free Hydrocelectomy and Management of Lymphoedema tagged “End Neglected Tropical Diseases, NTDs”, held at the State Specialist Hospital Okitipupa, at the headquarters of Okitipupa Local Government area on Friday 31st March, 2023.

In his speech, the Ondo State Commissioner for Health, Dr Banji Awolowo Ajaka, said, “I am pleased to address you and to preside over the flagg-off ceremony of the second phase of free mass hydrocelectomy to be conducted in Ondo State for hydrocele cases arising from Lymphatic filariasis.

“The first phase of the intervention was conducted at the General Hospital, ldanre. This signals yet another milestone in the drive of this Administration led by our goal-oriented Governor, Arakinrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, SAN, CON, to priotitize and invest heavily in the health of the citizens of our Sunshine State.

“Lymphatic filariasis commonly known as elephantiasis, is a neglected tropical disease which usually occurs when filarial parasites are transmitted to humans through mosquitoes. Infection is usually acquired in childhood causing hidden damage to the lymphatic system.

“The painful and profoundly disfiguring visible manifestations of the disease, lymphoedema, elephantiasis and scrotal swelling occur later in life and can lead to permanent disability. These patients are not only physically disabled but suffer mental, social and financial losses contributing to stigma and poverty.

“According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 36 million people across the world have hydrocele and lymphoedema arising from lymphatic filariasis, Nigeria contributed significantly to this global burden. In Ondo State, 17 Local Govemment Areas (LGAs) are endemic for this disease. It is therefore imperative to eliminate this disease to prevent unnecessary suffering and reduce poverty among our people.

“The government of Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu SAN is determined to ensure healthy living for her citizens and the realization of the above global goals through partnership with non-governmental organization (Mission to Save the Helpless, MITOSATH).

“This partnership has yielded tremendous achievements in eliminating this disease in the state. Some of these include: Establishment of NTDs Clinic at the Ondo State Primary Health Care Development Agency, (OSPHCDA). This is the first of such in Nigeria.

“For the past 3years, all the 18 LGAs has achieved between 65% — 80% therapeutic coverage for Oncho/LF intervention. These are within the acceptable coverage for preventive chemotherapy for the different diseases.

“Ondo State is the first State in the Southern region of Nigeria to implement free mass hydrocelectomy for infected citizens with 58 cases done in the Central Senatorial District and now we are here today for the second phase covering the Southern Senatorial District.

“The State has also developed an electronic data collection system for active case search of NTDs including lymphatic filariasis. This strategic innovation has never been done in any other state in Nigeria.

“I want to thank the management of the OSPHCDA under the leadership of Dr Francis Adegoke Akanbiemu, for their strong commitment to the realization of government agenda in health. I will not forget to appreciate our partner in progress. MlTOSATH for regularly providing the needed financial support for NTDs elimination activities in the state.

“The State government will not relent in her drive to ensure that our people live a healthy and happy life. We will ensure that no member of our dear state has to continue to suffer from this debilitating and stigmatizing disease,” Dr Ajaka concluded.

Reaffirming the Akeredolu’s led administration in ensuring healthy living for the citizens through the establishment of NTDs clinic in all Primary Healthcare centers across the state, The Permanent Secretary, Ondo State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr Akanbiemu Francis Adegoke, advised residents to always underscore medical checkup to ascertain their health status.

Dr Akanbiemu appreciated the conveners of the programme for various strides in assisting the helpless in tackling Neglected Tropical Diseases, NTDs in Ondo state.

The Permanent Secretary promised that his agency would continue to support health policies and programmes that would improve living conditions of the people especially in preventing and eradicating various life threatening diseases.

Speaking on the need for residents to adhere to some health precautionary measures against the outbreak of tropical diseases in Ondo State, the State Health Data Manager, Mr Akin Adejuwon advised people of the State to seek medical assistance when perceive strange condition in their health system.

Adejuwon enumerated prevailing four tropical diseases in Ondo State out of the twenty in which elephantiasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis and lymphatic filariasis due to substandard housing  as shortlisted by the World Health Organisation.

The Manager urged residents to accept necessary drugs to be administered by health workers in its distribution.

Adejuwon equally enjoined residents in the State to ensure proper cleanliness of their homes and keep their surroundings clean in order to eliminate those vectors capable to transmit dangerous diseases, noting that the epidemics must totally be the things of the past in the year 2023 in Nigeria as promised by the global health agency.

On her part, the Executive Director of MITOSATH, Dr (Mrs) Francisca Olamiju who ordered immediate medical surgery for all victims of any of the listed diseases during the free medical programme, appealed to traditional rulers in Ondo South senatorial district to create awareness about the ongoing free medical care to avoid untimely death.

The Jegun of Idepe-Okitipupa, Oba Micheal Adetoye Obatuga; the Abodi of Ikale land, Oba George Faduyile;  Okitipupa Local Government CAN and Muslim Community led by the CAN Chairman, Pastor Peter Akinyelure and Alhaji Kamardeen Adeyemi Bagudu, Chief Imam of Okitipupa, respectively, as well as Market men and women among others.

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