By Joy Obakeye
Eliminating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) can expand Nigeria’s economic productivity by about $19 billion by 2030, according to a study by Deloitte.
The study, commissioned by the END Fund, a private philanthropic initiative dedicated to ending the most common NTDs, says that such expansion is possible if the country continues to stay on track to meet its 2030 elimination targets.
NTDs are a group of parasitic and bacterial diseases that affect predominantly economically disadvantaged groups.
The diseases are often chronic and cause severe symptoms that significantly hinder the ability of an individual to lead an independent life.
A statement yesterday by the Senior Director for Public Affairs, END Fund, Ms Oyetola Oduyemi, explained that the study was commissioned to prepare an economic impact on the elimination of the five most common NTDs in Nigeria.
They include lymphatic filariasis; onchocerciasis (river blindness); schistosomiasis (snail fever); soil-transmitted helminths (STH, intestinal worms); and trachoma.
The report’s main objective is to holistically present the key economic and social benefits of eliminating the five most prevalent NTDs in Nigeria by 2030, including long-term financial returns and a cost-benefit assessment of elimination programs.
According to the statement, eliminating NTDs is in commitment to the UN Global Goals and the sustainable development agenda is to “leave no one behind”.
The main objective is to holistically present the key economic and social benefits of eliminating the five most prevalent NTDs in Nigeria by 2030, including long-term financial returns and a cost-benefit assessment of elimination programs.
The statement said further, “The study analysis shows that in Africa, the share of the population suffering from NTDs is negatively related to wealth, meaning that as countries develop their economies, they become better at handling NTDs through investment.
“Additionally, the elimination of NTDs is correlated with good educational outcomes. Studies suggest a bidirectional causative relationship between the two, eliminating diseases and advancing education.
“The gains would also continue beyond 2030, as individuals who are cured or avoid infection live more productive and fulfilling lives. Additional economic benefits include avoided out-of-pocket expenses, freed-up productivity of caregivers, and gains due to increased school attendance.”
Commenting, Oduyemi said: “the Report is designed to galvanise a concerted effort by the public, private and philanthropic sectors of the country and sub-region to elevate NTDs in public health systems.”
Also, to “increase the domestic resource envelope for NTDs and to 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.”