COUNTDOWN Programme Launches in Nigeria

News article 10 Mar 2017
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Nigeria to scale-up its intervention against Neglected Tropical Diseases in Kaduna and Ogun.

COUNTDOWN Nigeria will launch on Wednesday, 15th March 2017 as part of the national Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) Steering Committee meeting. This will take place at the Ibis Hotels, 35/37 Murtala International Airport Road, Ikeja, Lagos.

COUNTDOWN will be working with our partners – Sightsavers Nigeria, the Nigeria Federal Ministry of Health Nigeria and the Kaduna and Ogun Ministries of Health.

The Nigeria programme will also join partners in three other African countries (Cameroon, Ghana and Liberia), FHI360 USA and Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine UK, to make up the COUNTDOWN consortium.

In the true spirit of partnership, COUNTDOWN will conduct research alongside the established national NTD agenda with the Federal Ministry of Health, the Ogun and Kaduna State Ministries of Health. Research activities will be undertaken and supervised by our other in-country partner – Sightsavers Nigeria.

The COUNTDOWN Country Director, Sunday Isiyaku said: “The Nigerian government has set the year 2020/2025 for elimination of NTDs in Nigeria. The COUNTDWON project is coming at a time when evidence based research is required to determine the critical factors required to achieve this. Sightsavers is committed to the elimination of NTDs in Nigeria believes that the outcome of the project would be a watershed in elimination of NTDs in Nigeria.

Kaduna and Ogun states were selected for the programme based on their differing phases of NTD control as well as to achieve variation in socio-demographic and geographic contexts. COUNTDOWN will be conducting applied research which is multidisciplinary and involves a team of social scientists, health economists, clinicians and parasitologists; aimed at improving NTD interventions for major NTDs such as Schistosomiasis, Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis (STH), Onchocerciasis, Lymphatic Filariasis and Trachoma.

Compared to Ogun, Kaduna has received extensive support from Non-governmental development organisations and therefore is more advanced on its NTD programme. Kaduna launched its NTD Master Plan in December 2016. 

NTDs continue to affect over one billion people in 154 countries around the world.  Half a billion of those susceptible to infection, remain in Africa. The Nigeria 2012 NTD Master Plan indicates the country accounts for 25% of the 7 major NTDs in sub-Saharan Africa, holding the largest burden on the African continent.

To this end, COUNTDOWN was created to provide new evidence on new ways of working to call time on NTDs and strive to end them by 2020; with 5-years of DFID funding initiative from 2014. We are working with NTD researchers, policy makers, practitioners and research specialists from Nigeria, the UK and USA to find areas for key advancements in NTD control. The first key activity for COUNTDOWN is an extensive data collection and analysis exercise which will consider past and present economic, social and technological data. This will help identify internal and external structures that influence the performance of the local government areas’ NTD programmes.

“We are delighted to participate in the launch of COUNTDOWN in Nigeria today and embark upon our forthcoming research partnership. Our aim is to assist in the scale-up of and optimization of current and future interventions against NTDs. This is with a mission is to reduce significantly the suffering of those with disability and disease. COUNTDOWN will foster and develop effective actions across the health system, not only here in Nigeria but also elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa, and seek to end this NTD pandemic.” said Prof. Russ Stothard, the Director of the COUNTDOWN programme.