About 122 million Nigerians are at the risk of contracting neglected tropical diseases, according to statistics made available on Monday by experts.
The experts drawn from the Neglected Tropical Diseases Elimination Programme, Federal Ministry of Health, therefore, warned that except necessary health and sanitary standards were observed, more Nigerians stood the risk of being infected.
The National Coordinator of the programme, Dr Chukwuma Anyaike, who is also a Director in the Ministry gave the warning at a 2-day Media Dialogue on Neglected Tropical Diseases Control in Nigeria organised by the 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 aiding and promoting poverty spread in Nigeria, reducing the productivity of the affected citizens and causing poverty.
Anyaike lamented that adequate attention had not been given to NTD because they affected the poor among the Nigerian population, and explained that when the diseases render those affected unproductive, their dependants suffer and poverty gains more ground.
Anyaike appealed to government at all levels to pay more attention to NTD and increase budget to tackle them 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 on NTD was a waste.
The Programme Manager, Dr. Nicholas Olobio, who spoke in similar voice, warned that NTD potend danger to the citizens 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 toilet, regular hand-washing and clean environment, could assist in eleminating NTD.
UNICEF Communication Specialist, Dr. Geoffrey Njoku, said the meeting was aimed at equipping journalists with useful information about NTD to enable them sensitize the public about it.
Njoku urged 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 the Federal Government was committed to eliminating NTD and ensuring good health for all citizens.