The Federal Ministry of Health says it has successfully interrupted the transmission of Onchocerciasis (River Blindness disease) in Plateau, Nasarawa and Kaduna States.
The Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mr Abdulaziz Abdullahi, disclosed this in a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday.
The statement signed by Mrs Ogundoro Modupe, the Deputy Director, Media and Public Relations of the ministry, quoted Abdullahi as saying that the transmission of the disease was about to suffer the same fate in Zamfara, Kebbi, Oyo and Bauchi States.
He said that the implication of this achievement was that about 4.2 million persons are no longer in need of mass administration of medicines for the disease in the endemic local government areas in the affected states.
“With these achievements, Plateau, Nasarawa and Kaduna States in Nigeria have joined other countries like Columbia, Ecuador, Guatemala and Mexico in the Americas and Awi Zone in Ethiopia in the interruption of transmission of River blindness,’’ he said.
The permanent secretary explained that the impact assessment exercise on the disease was carried out in several states, using epidemiological and entomological parameters.
He added that the impact assessment exercise was carried out following the recommendations of the National Onchocerciasis Elimination Committee (NOEC), which indicated the interruption of the disease in Plateau, Nasarawa and Kaduna states.
Abdullahi said the entomological studies were ongoing to confirm the level of interruption in Zamfara, Kebbi, Oyo and Bauchi States.
He added that nearly all states have maintained a minimum of 65 per cent therapeutic coverage in the past seven years.
“Overall treatment have risen from about 200,000 persons in 1991 to over 70 million by 2018, including people living in conflict areas,” he explained.
The permanent secretary noted that sustaining the momentum of the elimination may become more challenging as the clinical manifestation of the disease become increasingly rare.
He said innovative communication strategy would be employed by government and key stakeholders to ensure that high coverage was maintained until the disease was eliminated in Nigeria.
Onchocerciasis is a parasitic disease caused by small worms living in the body. It is transmitted by the bite of a black fly which is the vector for river blindness.
Manifestations of the disease include severe and troublesome itching, hanging groin, thick and rough skin, and blindness.