Jun 26, 2015
By: Carlie Congdon, Associate Program Director
A few weeks ago, I attended the Nigeria neglected tropical disease (NTD) stakeholders meeting and visited the offices of the END Fund’s new partner, Mitosath, a non-governmental development organization (NGDO)indigenous to Nigeria. Nigeria has one of the highest burdens of NTDs, which is not shocking given the massive population of over 173 million people and the number of them that are living in conditions that facilitate the spread of NTDs. These factors also make Nigeria a priority country for the NTD community.
One of the most valuable things that I learned from the stakeholders meeting is that there are a number of very dedicated partners in Nigeria, however various challenges of geography, security, coordination, and funding make it extremely difficult to reach all of the individuals requiring treatment. For example in Akwa Ibom state, a riverine area, boats are needed to reach the majority of the population, making drug delivery extremely expensive. In Adamawa state, security issues related to rebel groups made the area inaccessible to mapping teams so we do not yet know the status of intestinal worms and schistosomiasis. In areas where implementation is ongoing, partners face the enormous task of coordinating and consolidating data at the federal level.
Despite these challenges, we must find a way to target these diseases in each state if we want to make significant progress toward NTD control in Nigeria. Luckily, many Nigerians feel the same way and this will be essential to success, as they are in the best position to navigate these complexities. This is part of the reason I am so excited to be partnering with Mitosath to not only treat diseases, but also further build capacity locally.
Mitosath was founded by Francisca Olamiju after she saw villages in Taraba State, Nigeria where the entire population was blind from river blindness. With the vision to uplift the dignity of human life, Mitosath has since worked to deliver millions of NTD treatments in multiple states of Nigeria. It was inspiring to see the staff so dedicated to improving the health of their communities as community mobilization is an essential component of many such interventions. I’m so glad I got to witness their dedication and goodwill, which will only strengthen this partnership.
We are starting small – relative to the size of Nigeria – in Ekiti State, which has about 2.7 million people, but I can’t wait to see this partnership in action and the differences it can make. My biggest hope is that at next year’s stakeholders meeting, the challenges seem more surmountable, and our efforts replicable to tackle more diseases in more states with more partners and government commitment.
How can we work together to further projects like this?