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Nigeria’s War on Terror: Fighting Dracunculiasis, Onchocerciasis, Lymphatic Filariasis, and Schistosomiasis at the Grassroots

Africa’s populous country, Nigeria, contains or contained more cases of dracunculiasis, onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis, and schistosomiasis than any other African nation and ranks or ranked first (dracunculiasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis) or third (lymphatic filariasis) in the world for the same diseases. After beginning village-based interventions against dracunculiasis 20 years ago and confronting onchocerciasis a few years later, Nigeria has nearly eliminated dracunculiasis and has provided annual mass drug administration for onchocerciasis to over three quarters of that at-risk population for 7 years. With assistance from The Carter Center, Nigeria began treating lymphatic filariasis and schistosomiasis in two and three states, respectively, over the past decade, while conducting pioneering operational research as a basis for scaling up interventions against those diseases, for which much more remains to be done. This paper describes the status of Nigeria’s struggles against these four neglected tropical diseases and discusses challenges and plans for the future.

Author Notes

Reprint requests: Donald R. Hopkins, The Carter Center, 453 Freedom Parkway, Atlanta, GA 30307.
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