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Nigeria certified guinea worm free but should not rest – Permanent Secretary

Nigeria is now certified guinea worm free, the permanent secretary of the federal ministry of women affairs and social development has said, adding, however, the country should not rest.

The senior civil servant, Ifeoma Anagbogu, stated this at the this year’s annual public lecture, tagged ‘Eradication of Guinea Worm Disease in Nigeria: Lesson Researchers and Policy Makers’, organised by the department of parasitology and entomology of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Azikiwe University, Awka, on Monday.

Mrs Anagbogu, who was a coordinator of the Neglected Tropical Disease Programme and Guinea Worm Eradication Programme, said guinea worm is a deadly disease which could be contacted from a dirty surface water body. She added that the disease is no respecter of persons.

According to Mrs Anagbogu, “Although  Nigeria has been certified guinea worm free, Nigerians still have to maintain surveillance and be sensitive to the body as the neighbouring country of Chad reports cases in Animals and Ethiopia reports cases in Humans”.

She stated that sensitising health workers on how to handle cases, investigation of all rumours, creating awareness in communities and advocacy for safe water supply should be the key points while trying to eradicate guinea worm disease.

She said the disease affected 18 African countries, including the whole of Nigeria, except Rivers State, and South Asian countries of India and Pakistan.

Continuing, she said the disease found in fishes, cats and dogs, was discovered by a late Nigeria’s professor, S.D. Onabamiwo in the 1950s

On his part,  the health minister, Isaac Adewole, represented by the medical chief of the  Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching  Hospital, Anthony Igwegbe, said the country has been able to curtail and eradicate the disease through the help of various international foundations and non-governmental organisations, which he thanked.

Earlier in his welcome address, the vice-chancellor, Joseph Ahaneku, speaking through the deputy vice-chancellor administration, Charles Esimone, disclosed that in 1988  six hundred and fifty-three thousand eight hundred and twenty cases of guinea worm were reported which led to the ranking of Nigeria as the most heavily infested endemic country globally.

The number, however, dropped to thirteen thousand in 1995, he said.

In her remarks,  The chairperson of local organizing committee of the lecture and professor in the host department,  O. C. Nwogu, said the mission of the department  is to produce  quality and competent manpower to help eradicate disease in Nigeria, noting that the department  has been able to produce two thousand  five hundred  graduates and five hundred post  graduates since its inception.

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