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50 Million Nigerians At Risk Of River Blindness

50 Million Nigerians At Risk Of River Blindness
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50 Million Nigerians At Risk Of River Blindness says Mr. Michael Igbe.

A river blindness is a parasitic tropical disease that affects the skin and eye of human or other higher mammals.

Onchocerciasis is a parasitic disease that may cause blindness.

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It occurs mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and a few isolated areas in the Americas (Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, and Venezuela).

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It’s mode of transmission is blackfly bites.

It is called river blindness as the blackfly that transmits the disease lives and breeds near fast-flowing rivers.

According to the Programme Manager, National Onchocerciasis Elimination Programme, Federal Ministry of Health Mr. Michael Igbe, about 50 million Nigerians are at risk of getting infected with onchocerciasis (River Blindness).

Igbe discloses this in Ibadan during a media dialogue organised by the Child Rights Information Bureau of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, in collaboration with the United Nations Children Fund.

The manager, who spoke on “Overview on Onchocerciasis Elimination in Nigeria”, said “treatment with ivermectin started in 1989, and in 1997, the Community Directed Treatment with Ivermectin strategy was adopted as the main strategy of programme implementation.

“At its inception, Nigeria had interventions covering 32 states and the Federal Capital Territory. Now, 27 states and the FCT, with about 50 million persons in Nigeria are at risk of onchocerciasis.”

Igbe explained that the disease was caused by the nematode Onchocerca volvulus, which is the second leading cause of preventable blindness.

According to him, onchocerciasis is transmitted by the bite of an infected black fly: Simulium damnosum and other species, breeding in fast-flowing streams and rivers.

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He noted that “people become blind early in life as from 20-30 years.”

He added that the major challenge faced in addressing the disease was insecurity in some local government areas.

Others, he said, were poor funding by government and inadequate logistics for Neglected Tropical Diseases programme.

He noted that NTDs are viral, parasitic and bacterial diseases that mainly affect the world’s poorest people.



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