The Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB) has played host to the 1st ever Scientific Conference on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). The Conference brought together scholars, researchers and donors from across the globe, with the aim of eliminating Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in Nigeria.
The Conference had a tripartite theme tagged, “Neglected Tropical Diseases Elimination in Nigeria: leaving no one Behind”, “Researchers Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases and Infectious Diseases of Poverty in Nigeria”, and “Repository, Knowledge on Neglected Tropical Diseases in Nigeria: Time to Move from Field to Policy”.
Welcoming participants, the Conference Convener, Professor Uwem Ekpo of the Department of Pure and Applied Zoology, FUNAAB, revealed that the Conference was triggered by the United Nations new Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDGs) 3.3, which says “By 2030, end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, waterborne diseases and other communicable diseases”.
Professor Ekpo said that out of the twenty-two NTDs currently recognised by the World Health Organisation, up to sixteen are endemic in Nigeria. These include NTDS such as, Schistosomiasis, Ascariasis, Hookworm infection, Trachoma, Leprosy, African sleeping sickness, Filariasis, River blindness (Onchocerciasis), Yaws and Pork tapeworm infection.
Others include, Fascioliasis, Buruli ulcer, Rabies, Whipworm, Snake bites and Scabies, which, according to him are caused by parasites; bacteria and virus.
Professor Ekpo described the Conference as crucial, as it is meant to bring together, NTDs researchers, and their international collaborators, policy makers and programme implementers to share their knowledge and showcase their researches in their efforts to conquer the battle of NTDs in Nigeria.
Earlier, declaring the Conference open, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Kolawole Salako, who was represented by the Dean, College of Biological Sciences (COLBIOS), Professor Oluseyi Akinloye, welcomed and appreciated all participants for coming together to find lasting solutions to the debilitating diseases prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa.
According to him, “That the first Scientific Conference on NTDs is taking place in Abeokuta is by no means a coincidence as one of the diseases (Schistosomiasis) was first discovered in Ogun State in 1991 in two endemic communities”.
The Vice-Chancellor expressed joy that the deliberations of the Conference will find a lasting solution to the prevalence of the disease and various others all over Nigeria that has been described as a “Global Hotspot” for NTDs.
He described the university as a centre committed to collaborating with and strengthening the efforts of World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations (UN) and other health bodies in eradicating NTDs through her various novel studies, notably, Schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis and soil-transmitted diseases
. The Vice-Chancellor noted that Nigeria is behind schedule in the fight to eliminate NTDs in the country, but expressed hope that the meeting will produce information exchange that will chart and accelerate plans towards a healthy Nigeria free from NTDs.
The Conference featured National and International eminent NTDs researchers and scientists from the United States of America (USA), United Kingdom (UK), China and Ghana, sharing their wealth of knowledge on NTDs.