Eliminating NTDs will boost Nigeria’s economy by $19bn – Study

Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD)

FILE PHOTO: Elephantiasis, one of the diseases under the Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD)

By Oluwafunke Ishola

A study by Deloitte has indicated that Nigeria’s economy will expand by $19 billion in productivity if the country eliminates Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) by 2030.

The study, commissioned by the END Fund, was released in a statement by Ms Oyetola Oduyemi, its Senior Director for Public Affairs, on Tuesday in Lagos.

The END Fund is a private philanthropic initiative dedicated to ending the most common NTDs.

Neglected tropical diseases are a group of parasitic and bacterial diseases that are widespread among economically disadvantaged groups.

The diseases are often chronic and cause severe symptoms that significantly hinder the ability of an individual to live an independent life.

The study focused primarily on the five most common NTDs in Nigeria, namely, lymphatic filariasis; onchocerciasis (river blindness); schistosomiasis (snail fever); soil-transmitted helminths (STH, intestinal worms) and trachoma.

Oduyemi said the report’s objective was to fully present key economic and social benefits of eliminating the five most prevalent NTDs in Nigeria by 2030.

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She said it also included long-term financial returns and a cost-benefit assessment of elimination programmes.

According to her, the study shows that in Africa, the share of the population suffering from NTDs is negatively related to wealth.

“It shows that as countries develop their economies, they become better at handling NTDs through investment,” she said.

She added that the elimination of NTDs was correlated with good educational outcomes.

“The Report is designed to galvanise a concerted effort by the public, private and philanthropic sectors of the country and sub-region to elevate the NTDs in public health systems.

“They should also increase the domestic resource envelope for NTDs and influence policy making that will effectuate these objectives in working to achieve the indicated potential benefits of achieving the WHO NTD Roadmap 2030 on disease control and elimination.”

Oduyemi said that the gains of eliminating the NTDs would extend beyond 2030, as individuals who were cured or avoided infection live more productive and fulfilling lives.

She listed the additional economic benefits as avoided out-of-pocket expenses, enhanced productivity of caregivers and increased school attendance of pupils. (NAN)

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