Researchers at the Erasmus University, Rotterdam, Netherlands, have estimated that Nigeria will save $12bn by eradicating neglected tropical disease in the country.
The report which was developed with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was presented by ENDFund at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Kigali, Rwanda.
NTDs are a diverse group of parasitic and bacterial infectious diseases that are particularly prevalent in areas with limited access to safe water, proper sanitation and adequate medical services
The five most common NTDs are elephantiasis, river blindness, schistosomiasis , intestinal worms infection and trachoma – account for 90 per cent of the region’s NTD burden.
According to the World Health Organisation, at least one of these diseases is present in all 47 countries in the African region.
Queen Sylvia of Buganda, a kingdom in Uganda, in her address at the event noted that the impact of NTDs on both health and economic development in sub-Saharan Africa is massive.
She stated that each year, these diseases cause disabilities among millions of African citizens.
“I have seen the devastating effects of NTDs first hand in my community.We cannot continue to let people across Africa suffer from these diseases of poverty when simple solutions exist. It is holding our people and our countries back. We can and we must do more,” she noted.
The Chief Executive Officer, END Fund, a private philanthropic initiative, Ellen Agler, called on government to increase investment towards ending the five most common NTDs on the continent.
Agler said, “NTD control efforts offer a return on investment unparalleled in global health.Ending these debilitating diseases will help reduce poverty at all levels, from families and communities to whole nations.”
The Rwandan Minister of Health, Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, said the country had made progress on NTDs. According to her, the prevalence of intestinal worms infection has reduced by 32 per cent over the last five years in the country.
Binagwaho said, “Now is the time for leaders across Africa to prioritise NTD control and put an end to these terrible diseases in order to improve the lives of our people. In Rwanda, we have invested in our people, and we have seen progress as a result of this commitment. With human lives at stake, we simply cannot afford to wait.”