Partners convene to discuss trachoma elimination in Nigeria

The Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria  and The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust Trachoma Initiative  are jointly  hosting an event today (10 May), to celebrate the collaboration and progress made by the government, donors and non-government organisations towards meeting the Neglected Tropical Disease elimination global targets.

Former Head of State President Olusegun Obasanjo, country representative for Nigeria of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, is to attend the event.  Other key speakers include Dr Astrid Bonfield, CEO of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, Dr. Nicholas Olobio from the Federal Ministry of Health, representatives from USAID and DfID and other NGO and Katsina-based colleagues working to eliminate Neglected Tropical Diseases.

More than 100 million people in Nigeria are at risk of getting or have an untreated Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD). NTDs are poverty-related and degenerating diseases. They include diseases such as trachoma, leprosy, buruli ulcer  elephantiasis, soil transmitted helminthes, schistosomiasis and river blindness among others. These diseases can be treated and prevented but are known to affect the poorest, most marginalized, and most remote communities in the world. They thrive where access to potable water, sanitation and hygiene, healthcare and good housing conditions are limited or even totally lacking. Their impact on individuals and communities can be devastating. Many of them cause severe disfiguration and disabilities. They impact negatively on life expectancy, education and economic opportunities of affected individuals and the communities they live in. Nigeria bears 25% of the NTD burden in the African sub region with some of the NTDs being the highest number of reported cases globally.

The Federal Ministry of Health is currently working with a number of donor countries and organisations, as well as NGO partners on programmes to eliminate 10 NTDs in the country as part of the World Health Organisation global targets for NTD control and elimination by 2020.  There have been modest achievements made in the control and elimination of these NTDs in Nigeria like the eradication of Guinea worm disease in Nigeria and interruption of transmission of Trachoma and Lymphatic Filariasis in Plateau and Nassarawa States.

With a common resolve, elimination of these NTDs in Nigeria will contribute to the achievement of the Government’s transformation agenda towards the achievement of improved and sustainable health outcomes.

Since 2014, The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust Trachoma Initiative has supported the Nigerian government, working with members of the International Coalition for Trachoma Control (ICTC), and coordinated by Sightsavers, to eliminate blinding trachoma.

Trachoma is caused by a bacterium called Chlamydia trachomatis and it affects both children and adults. If not treated, trachoma can lead to blindness. About 12.5 million people live in 65 trachoma endemic LGAs in Nigeria.

The Trust programme is in eight of the most trachoma-endemic Local Government Areas in Katsina State and aims to provide surgery to those with trachoma trichiasis (TT), the advanced stage of the disease. This simple operation corrects their in-turned eyelashes and prevents further damage to the eye which could eventually cause blindness. The programme also trains surgeons, nurses, hospital assistants and community volunteers to recognise the symptoms of trachoma and refer people at household level to the nearest eye clinic. 

The Trust is delighted to bring together partners working to combat blinding trachoma in Nigeria. Trachoma is an ancient, excruciatingly painful, and ultimately blinding condition, yet by following a tried and tested strategy, it can be completely eliminated. The Trust was set up to enrich the lives of people and leave a lasting legacy across the Commonwealth, in honour of Her Majesty The Queen, and I hope that by working together, the legacy we leave in Nigeria is that people are free from the threat of blinding trachoma.

Dr Astrid Bonfield, Chief Executive of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust
Notes to Editors

About The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust Trachoma Initiative

The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust’s Trachoma Initiative is working to eliminate blinding trachoma in countries within the Commonwealth, in honour of Her Majesty The Queen.

The Initiative is being undertaken in partnership with the International Coalition for Trachoma Control (ICTC) and will be coordinated by ICTC members: Sightsavers in Africa and The Fred Hollows Foundation in Australia and the Pacific.

 For more information please visit:  www.endtrachoma.org

About The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust

The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust is a charitable foundation established in 2012 to mark and celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s 60-year contribution to the Commonwealth.

The trust has received donations from governments, corporate partners, trusts, foundations, community groups and individuals from across the Commonwealth. Its mission is to enrich the lives of people from all backgrounds within the Commonwealth, and its programmes work in alliance towards eliminating avoidable blindness and to empower a new generation of young leaders.

With a five-year timeframe in which to deliver successful programmes, the Trust’s aim is to leave a lasting legacy, owned by the whole Commonwealth, to honour Her Majesty The Queen.

For more information please visit www.jubileetribute.org

About The International Coalition for Trachoma Control (ICTC)

The International Coalition for Trachoma Control (ICTC) is a coalition of non‐governmental, donor, private sector, training and research organizations bound by a strong sense of collaboration that exemplifies how an international public-private partnership can achieve remarkable results. Established in 2004, ICTC contributes to global efforts to eliminate trachoma by supporting the Alliance for the Global Elimination of Trachoma by 2020 and by advocating for and implementing the WHO-endorsed approach for treatment and prevention, the SAFE strategy.

Progress towards the elimination of blinding trachoma over the last decade demonstrates the incredible impact of increased partnership within the trachoma community: the number of surgeries undertaken has increased from 22,000 in 2004 to over 230,000 in 2013; drug distribution has rapidly expanded from about 4 million in 2004 to almost 55 million doses in 2013 and important gains have been made on both the facial cleanliness and environmental improvement components of the SAFE strategy, often in collaboration with other sector-wide programmes. Overall, more than 30 countries currently have elimination programmes underway.

For more information, please visit www.trachomacoalition.org

About the ICTC Implementing partners in Nigeria

The Trachoma Initiative in Nigeria is being coordinated by Helen Keeler International (HKI)  and delivered by ICTC members.

About Sightsavers the grant manager in Nigeria

Sightsavers is a registered UK charity (Registered charity numbers 207544 and SC038110) that works in more than 30 developing countries to prevent blindness, restore sight and advocate for social inclusion and equal rights for people with disabilities.

Sightsavers role as ICTC grant manager means it works closely with the six national co-ordinating partners to ensure successful programme delivery; this includes embedding ICTC quality standards within national programmes.

For more information, please visit www.sightsavers.org

Contacts

For further information, please contact Faith Mall, Senior Media & PR Officer, on 01444 446637 or fmall@sightsavers.org or Sunday Isiyaku, Sightsavers Nigeria Country Director on +234 8036 185951 or sisyaku@sightsavers.org or Ifeoma Anagbogu, Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja on ifechuba@yahoo.co.uk