Schistosomiasis is an acute and chronic disease caused by trematode parasites, which health authorities say more than 200 million people are infected worldwide and in terms of impact, this disease is second only to malaria as the most devastating parasitic disease.
In Nigeria, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Expanded Special Project for the Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases (ESPEN) has supported Nigeria to reach over 2 million children who have never had Schistosomiasis treatment before.
Conducted across 27 LGAs in Borno, 18 LGAs in Adamawa and 3 LGAs in Bauchi state, ESPEN contributed in bringing the geographic coverage of treatment to 100% in Adamawa, Borno and Bauchi states.
The treatment, Praziquantel, is safe and effective and the risk of developing severe complication from the infection is diminished and mostly reversed when treatment is timely.
The World Health Organization has helped the country to have a complete mapping of where Schistosomiasis is endemic in the country. The mapping has shown that 583 of the 774 LGAs in the country have schistosomiasis. In addition to mapping, WHO provides Praziquantel drugs for mass drug administration (MDA). As of the beginning of this year, 449 of the 583 endemic LGAs had conducted at least one MDA including 190 that carried out MDAs in 2018 alone. All children at risk are reached and provided a dose of praziquantel during MDA campaigns. Capacities of health workers are built for the campaign as well as continued routine treatment.
“These MDAs are indeed what is what is needed. They are truly impactful and do touch on lives of many children,” stated Dr Anyaike Chukwuma, the National NTD coordinator. “So far, I am glad to report that at least 2 million children have so far been reached this year and I looking forward to reaching even more by the end of the year.”