Nigeria seeks support on guinea worm eradication

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter tries to comfort 6-year-old Ruhama Issah at Savelugu Hospital as a Carter Center technical assistant dresses Issah's extremely painful Guinea worm wound.

The agency boss promised N25,000 cash reward on genuine informants of guinea-worm.

The Federal Ministry of Health on Friday called for support for its Guinea Worm Eradication Programme to aid the certification of Nigeria as a guinea worm-free country.

Ifeoma Anagbogu, the National Coordinator of the Nigeria Guinea Worm Eradication Programme (NIGEP), made the appeal in Abeokuta at a sensitisation programme on the disease.

Mrs. Anagbogu described guinea worm as `a poverty-generating’ disease, affecting agricultural production adversely and incapacitating people and communities. She added that it also caused school absenteeism by pupils.

She said that a certification team from the World Health Organisation (WHO) would visit Nigeria on June 24. She said the team would be in the country for a final assessment of how the country had fared since its last reported case of guinea worm in November, 2008.

She explained that the certification by WHO would boost Nigeria’s health image, adding that it would also attract foreign investors to Nigeria who might be afraid of being infected with the disease.

Mrs. Anagbogu, however, noted with delight that Nigeria which used to be the most guinea worm endemic country in the world, with a total of 653,620 cases in 1988, had maintained a zero guinea worm disease status since 2008.

The NIGEP coordinator who attributed the success to the concerted effort of NIGEP, however, solicited more support from members of the public by reporting any suspected case of guinea worm to the nearest health facility or health worker.

She urged people to contact her agency through its toll free number (0801001000), in case of any suspected case, pledging a cash reward of N25,000 if the case was confirmed.

Mrs. Anagbogu explained that the purpose of the meeting was to build adequate capacity of its field personnel to enable them to quickly respond to any reported case. She added that the meeting was also aimed at increasing the awareness level of Nigerians on the disease, which she put at 52 per cent as at the last survey conducted in 2012.

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The coordinator said that NIGEP had already put in place sensitive surveillance structure for quick detection of the disease so as to contain it promptly.

Participants at the meeting include epidemiologists, village-based health workers, Disease Surveillance Notification Officers and NIGEP coordinators at the state and local government levels.

(NAN)

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