Neglected tropical diseases are a diverse group of tropical infections which are common in low-income populations in developing regions of Africa, Asia and the Americas. They have a range of effects from extreme pain, permanent disability to death. NTDs are classified into two groups which are Preventive Chemotherapy (PCT) and Innovative Disease Management (IDM). Examples include;
PCT NTDs include Lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis (river blindness), schistosomiasis (bilharziasis), soil-transmitted helminthiases (intestinal worms) and trachoma.
IDM NTDs include Buruli ulcer, yaws, leprosy and rabies, etc. One or more of the five (5) PCT NTDs are endemic in the four HANDS supported states of Kano, Jigawa, Yobe and FCT and over the years intervention has been going for the 5 PCT NTDs through Mass Drug Administration using the community and school platforms.
Trachoma as a Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) is one of the major causes of blindness if left untreated. Trachoma is an ocular infection by Chlamydia Trachomatis initially causing inflammation of the conjunctiva. Repeated exposure to the bacterium without adequate treatment causes the upper eyelid to turn inwards which is known as trachomatous trichiasis (TT). Ultimately, this results in scarring of the eye which leads to blindness. The main form of the disease transmission occurs by direct contact between individuals who spread infective droplets from the eyes and nose, but the disease can also be spread by fomites (handkerchief, towel, eye-pencil, etc.) and flies. Trachoma tends to manifest more among young children who lack facial hygiene and mothers who have high contact hours with their offspring.
HANDS in collaboration with donor agencies, Federal and States Ministries of Health, have been supporting trachoma control in some northern states of Nigeria, precisely Jigawa, Kano, Yobe and Bauchi states for several years. HANDS, as part of our mandate, provide quality treatment for those with trachoma and seeks to improve preventative measures through effective strategies to tackle and control the disease. These involve Surgery for trichiasis, Antibiotic treatment through mass administration of medicine, Facial cleanliness, and Environmental improvement (SAFE). Impact Assessment Survey conducted recently shows a tremendous improvement in the fight against the trachoma disease, which has led to the stoppage of MDA activities in 10 endemic LGAs of Kano state, but surgeries for trichiasis have continued as a way of clearing backlogs in the state.