Health experts decry failure by African leaders to contain parasitic diseases
Parasitology and Public Health Society of Nigeria (PPSN), yesterday, expressed concern over increasing tropical parasitic Diseases and their adverse effects on the African continent over the years, blaming it on “no political will by African leaders to tackle the crippling and killing parasites in the bud”.
In a keynote address at the 46th yearly conference held in Abraka, Ethiope East Council of Delta State, the Vice-Chancellor, Delta State University, (DELSU), Abraka, Prof. Andy Egwunyenga, described the consequences of parasitic infections as very devastating in terms of sicknesses and deaths.
According to Egwunyenga, tropical parasites shorten lives, reduce the ability to work or attend school and impose a life-long burden on Africa’s potential for development.
The professor of parasitology and public health consultant, who bemoaned the burden of tropical diseases in Africa, stated that diseases cause mass poverty, high infertility rate, slow economic growth, deforestation, rapid urbanisation and increased migration, wars and natural disasters across the continent.
These, according to him, contribute to increased transmission and distribution of diseases and underscores the urgent need to build the political will for effective disease control, bridge the gap in health financing, and priority setting and come up with how best to improve prevention, monitoring and control of diseases, rather than relying more on foreign aid for a cure.
He said diseases cost the African region $2.4 trillion yearly, and that nearly 639 million years of healthy life were lost in 2015 In sub-Saharan Africa, an epidemiological transition in the last 20 years has seen the rise of non-communicable disease as the leading cause of death in many countries.
“The health challenge has been well recognised by African governments, resulting in the Abuja Declaration in 2001 and other follow-ups but responses have been mixed with most countries unable to meet the funding target of 15 per cent, including Nigeria, with an average budget of about 4.7 per cent inthe past 20 years, while the highest is Swaziland with 17 per cent,” he stated.
Egwunyenga regretted that the Nigerian government, compared to other African countries, has failed woefully, in ensuring that 15 per cent of its yearly budgetary allocation goes to health.
“Aside from other unstated allowances, Nigerian federal lawmakers, in 2020, allocated to themselves, a total of N268 billion and N463.76 billion to health. An analysis of the budget shows that more than half of all Nigeria planned to spend on health in 2020 (N463.7 billion) went to the National Assembly. This meant that for every N2 spent on Nigerian health care, N1 went to the National Assembly. In the pitiably same year, Nigeria spent N500 billion on medical tourisms”, he lamented.