5 million Nigerians at risk of Trachoma- Experts

… As Nigeria ranks 4th most endemic country for Trachoma

No fewer than 5 million Nigerian are reported to be at risk of going blind from the Trachoma in the country if urgent actions are not taken by concerned key stakeholders to address the manance.

Dr. Nicholas Olobio, the Programme Manager, National Trachoma Elimination Programme unraveled this while giving an update on Trachoma elimination in Nigeria at a media dialogue on NTDs Control in Nigeria organized by UNICEF in collaboration with the Child Rights Information Bureau of the Federal Ministry of information, yesterday in Port Harcourt, Rivers state .

He said Trachoma is a disease of the eye caused by infection with the bacterium chlamydia trachomatis.says blindness from Trachoma is irreversible.

According to him, Trachoma as a public health problem is the leading causes of blindness globally, yet, considered to be a neglected tropical disaster (NTDs).

He said the disease which is highly prevelant in the northern part of Nigeria is commonly found in vulnerable communities disproportionately affecting women and children.

Adding that the disease is associated with poverty and low standard of living characterized by overcrowding, poor environmental and personal hygiene.

He explained that the infection spread through personal contact (via hands, cloths or bedding) and by flies that have been in contact with discharge from the eyes or nose of an affected person. With repeated episodes of infection over many years, the eyelashes may be drawn in so that they rub on the surface of the eye, with and discomfort and permanent damage to the cornea

He said ” Globally the number of people at risk of Trachoma has fallen 1.5 billion in 2002 to over 137 million on March 2020.

” a total of 21.8 million persons are no longer in need of Mass drugs Administration (MDA) for Trachoma in 101 endemic local government areas in the sixteen states which include: Benue, Bauchi, Ebonyi, Edo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Plateau, Sokoto, Zamfara, Yobe and Nasarawa.

“At inception about 30 million persons were at risk of going blind from Trachoma bit the risk has now been brought down to about five million, a reduction of 83 per cent.

” Nigeria is now the fourth most endemic country for Trachoma in the world after Ethiopia, DRC, and Cote d’ ivoire”, he disclosed.

He said in 2020, 8,771 people received surgical treatment for advanced stages of the disease while others were treated with antibiotics.

Trachoma which is one of the numerous identified diseases associated with NTDs found in the rural areas and with low-income earners in Nigeria as well as the African sub-Region, according to the expert could be addressed by mass administration of medicine of the at – risk population area in the country.

To this end, Dr. Olobio called on governments at all levels to invest more in the health sector in order to achieve the desired target of eliminating the prevelance of Trachoma to less the 0.05 per cent in children from 1 to 9 years old and less ths 0.2 per 1000 in adults.

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