Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Delta pledges technical partnership to combat diseases

The Delta Government has reiterated its commitment to seek partnership with local and foreign organisations to check possible outbreak of diseases in the state.
The State Commissioner for Health, Dr Nicholas Azinge, said this on Tuesday in Asaba when officials from the Nigerian Institute for Trypanosomiasis Research, Kaduna, and the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnosis (FIND), Geneva, Switzerland visited him.
He affirmed the state government’s preparedness to work with organisations in the health sector to help trace every outbreak of diseases in local government areas of the state with a view to stemming the spread.
The commissioner said disease surveillance and response activities were very vital activities the ministry carries out regularly in order to reduce the impact of diseases.
He pledged to work closely with the institute and its funding partners to enable the state take advantage of their assistance in prompt detection and control of diseases.
Azinge directed the State Hospital Management Board to make it mandatory for doctors to direct patients in endemic areas who have continuous cases of fever to take the rapid diagnostic test for sleeping sickness.
He warned that any doctor who fails to abide by the directive of sending those who tested positive from the test to visit the facilities designated for confirmation of the disease would be sanctioned as a deterrent for others.
Earlier in an address, Prof. Joseph Ndung’u, Head of Programme, Neglected Tropical Diseases at the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnosis (FIND), Switzerland, lauded Nigeria for its commitment to disease control.
He disclosed that Nigeria is one of the countries that have advanced in the control of human and animal trypanosomiasis or sleeping sickness in Africa.
Ndung’u said that since the last reported case of the disease in Nigeria in 2012, there has not been any new officially reported case till date, describing the development as a remarkable feat
He said that going by the trend, the institute had projected that the disease would not be in existence in Nigeria by the year 2020.
Ndung’u said the foundation has launched an aggressive programme in Delta where it had sensitised policy makers, health workers and communities on the clinical signs of sleeping sickness disease.
According to him, the foundation also has a partnership agreement with the Nigerian Government through the Nigeria Institute of Trypanosomiasis Research (NITR), federal and state Ministries of Health.
He said the partnership would enable them put in place a strategy that would intensify the screening of communities in regions where cases of sleeping sickness have been reported in the past.
Ndung’u further revealed that the partnership has resulted in the training of health workers in Delta and the introduction of screening facilities in 52 healthcare centres in the state.
He also said the foundation has supported the development of unique tests and a rapid diagnostic test kits for screening of sleeping sickness to enable health workers to perform the test in a simplified way.
Ndung’u further explained that the method adopted in the screening test requires that if somebody was found positive, the person would have to go for confirmation.
He said: “To this end, the health facility centres for the confirmatory testing was increased last year from the initial four to 25 in Delta state.
“But since no case of the disease has been detected, the centres will be reduced to 18 based on the findings from the research carried out on the epidemiology of the disease all over the state.”
Ndung’u however added that the centres would now be uniformly distributed across the state while the surveillance of the disease would still continue.
He said only the World Health Organisation (WHO) can confirm or verify that Delta was free from the disease with the aid of the data being generated by the Principal Investigator from the Nigerian Institute for Trypanosomiasis Research, Kaduna.
Dr Felicia Enwezor, the Principal Investigator, Nigerian Institute for Trypanosomiasis Research, Kaduna, said the programme was initiated in 2014, but the actual screening operations started in 2015 and has continued till date.
She explained that the institute was the chief collaborator in the programme in terms of funding and it embarked on the visit to assess what was on ground and discuss their findings.
Enwezor disclosed that the programme would be rounding up by June 2017 in line with the memorandum of understanding signed with the Delta Government.


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