By Oyetola Oduyemi, Director, Public Affairs at the END Fund
Amidst the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, a committed and diverse coalition of Nigerian private sector partners has been steadily growing in support of a bold yet achievable idea: ending decades of neglect by ensuring that affected communities receive regular treatment for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Recently, IHS Nigeria, a leading telecommunications infrastructure service provider, and Ishk Tolaram Foundation, a philanthropic organization within the Tolaram ecosystem, partnered with the END Fund to help provide NTD treatments for over 100,000 people in affected communities across Nigeria. Their support is critical in ending the scourge of NTDs in Nigeria and unlocking great social and
On the eve of World NTD Day, celebrated globally on January 30th, this coalition has a new champion: the captain of our own Super Eagles, William Troost-Ekong. Via the Game of Our Lives platform, William will captain a new team, Thrive, Africa, dedicated to ending NTDs in Nigeria and across the continent. The new Thrive Africa will offer an engaging space to learn about NTDs alongside William and many other leaders from across the continent.
According to recent World Health Organization figures, approximately 166 million people in Nigeria need treatment for at least one NTD. NTDs can lead to death and cause long-term disabilities like severe pain, disfigurement, and blindness. In addition to creating ongoing health challenges, NTDs have dire social and economic consequences for individuals, societies, and economies. The effects from NTDs can lead to social isolation and stigmatization and affect both children and adults, reducing the number of years of education completed, future earning potential and overall economic productivity.
The encouraging fact is that NTDs are treatable or preventable with the right resources or interventions. For as little as US $0.50 per person per year, people affected by NTDs can access treatment for five of the most common NTDs – intestinal worms, schistosomiasis, river blindness, trachoma, and lymphatic filariasis. Treating and preventing NTDs is also a smart economic decision. For example, it was recently announced that as a result of neighboring Niger’s unprecedented move towards elimination of river blindness, an estimated USD 2.3 billion in productivity gains had been unlocked by the country – offering inspiration for Nigeria and other countries across the region.
The elimination of NTDs requires collective action from a broad network of government, NGO, and private sector partners. The END Fund is working with organizations such as IHS Nigeria and Ishk Tolaram Foundation to achieve a healthier population. These collaborations are yielding great dividends. Since it commenced operations in Nigeria in 2013, in collaborative partnership with local and international partners, the END Fund has treated about 66 million people with over 169 million treatments and trained just over 312 thousand health workers.
Commenting on the occasion of World NTD Day 2022, Cima Sholotan, Director, Sustainability & Corporate Communications at IHS Nigeria, said, “With the assistance of other private sector partners working in tandem with the government and with critical development partners like the END Fund, we will move the needle positively towards attaining the goal of co-creating a healthier and wealthier nation, free from the burden of NTDs.”
“To achieve an end to NTDs in Nigeria, we need to work collaboratively,” remarked Oje Ivagba, Deputy Program Director, Ishk Tolaram Foundation Nigeria. “Our partnership with the END Fund is enabling us to make significant progress in reducing the NTD burden across Nigeria, in ultimately ending these diseases so that Nigerians can live healthier lives.”
Partnerships such as those with IHS Nigeria and Ishk Tolaram Foundation, and support from organizations such as Global Citizen and leaders like William Troost-Ekong, are critical to enabling the detection, prevention, treatment and elimination of NTDs in Nigeria. With the END Fund serving as a key platform for donor coordination, collaboration, and leverage, and engaging as a technical, strategic, and advocacy partner, the required tools and resources are on hand to achieve the elimination of NTDs once and for all.