Kogi State is near the centre of Nigeria and is home to more than 4,000 communities across 21 local government areas. The Kogi State NTD unit provides services to these communities to support the control and elimination of four neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) that are known to be endemic in the state: river blindness, lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis, and intestinal worms.
Mr Alabi has been the Kogi State NTD coordinator since March 2015 and has been supporting the Ascend West and Central Africa programme since it began in 2019. The UK aid-funded programme aims to make major progress towards the elimination of the four diseases in 13 countries, including Nigeria, by providing more than 300 million treatments across three years.
On days when Mr Alabi is in the office, you will often find him working hard planning consultations, advocacy opportunities or the coordination of treatment to ensure that it is available to all communities for annual distribution. When he is not in the office, he can be found working out in the nearby communities supporting volunteer training and monitoring and supervising project activities.
The involvement of people with disabilities in Kogi State is another great success and is helping to reduce discrimination and stigma against people with disabilities and highlights how they can contribute to society.
One volunteer is Joseph Uloko, from the Abejucolo community in the Omala area of Kogi State. Joseph has a disability and is a proud leader in his community. When he heard people with disabilities were being included in the community’s NTD programme, he quickly volunteered to help distribute treatment.
“It gives me great joy to help my community and on a small scale be able to look out for other people with disabilities and make sure they are also receiving treatment to protect themselves against NTDs,” states Joseph.
When asked if there was any negative reaction from people when he was administering treatment he said there was none.
Prior to the effort of Mr Alabi and his team to include people with disabilities, most communities had social and cultural biases towards disability. This is now reduced and people with disabilities have a renewed sense of importance in the community. Mr Alabi says: “I have a wonderful team both at the state and local government levels. I thank God for our community volunteers who are very resilient and I’m thankful for those who have served the programme over the years. The successes we have made are a result of the team capacity.”