River Blindness (Onchocerciasis) constitutes a major public health problem in rural Nigeria. The disease is associated with variety of adverse social and economic effects on the endemic communities. This study sets out to evaluate the use of radio messages in combating River Blindness in Niger and Kwara States of Nigeria. A total of 385 individuals in endemic communities in the two states were studied. Survey method was employed, using questionnaire and interviews as measuring instruments. Multi-stage sampling was also used in this study for collection of data from the primary source. Simple frequency distribution tables, charts and diagrams were employed for data analysis and presentation. The result of the study shows that majority of respondents in the two states are aware of river blindness through health messages from radio. The result further showed that majority owned radio sets and do listen to health programmes weekly; while there were few challenges faced by radio stations in the area of poor transmission and use of English language for health message. The present study reveals that emphasis on pathological and ontological survey has been more on focus than psycho-social survey. The study among others, recommended that the use of radio messages for teaching and promoting health in river blindness endemic communities should be encouraged, local examples should be the point of focus in using radio drama to sensitize the people, radio messages should be motivating and highly interactive, and more studies on psycho-social survey should be encouraged due to paucity of literature on the use of radio messages in combating river blindness.

Title Page
Table of Contents
List of Tables

1.1       Background of the Study
1.2       Statement of the Problem
1.3       Objectives of the Study
1.4       Research Questions
1.5       Significance of Study
1.6       Scope of Study
1.7       Operational Definition

2.1       History of Radio in Nigeria
2.2       Radio and Health Messages
2.3       Community Radio and Health Messages
2.4       Radio Drama and Health Promotion  Strategies
2.5       Pathological and Entomological Approaches
2.6       Theoretical Framework

3.1       Research Design
3.2       Population of Study
3.3       Sample Size
3.4       Sampling Technique
3.5       Measuring Instruments
3.6       Sampling Technique for Qualitative Analysis
3.7       Reliability and Validity of Instruments
3.8       Method of Data Collection
3.9       Method of Data Analysis

Data Presentation, Analysis and Result
4.8       Research Question 1
4.13     Research Question 2
4.20     Research Question 3
4.23     Research Question 4
4.26     Research Question 5
4.31     Discussion of Findings

5.1       Summary
5.2       Conclusion
5.3       Recommendations

1.1         Background of the Study
River Blindness (onchocerciasis), first reported in northern Nigeria in 1908, is now widespread throughout the country. Ocular onchocerciasis, the second leading cause of blindness (OSD) is most widespread in the rain forest and savanna/mosaic areas. In 1956, the estimated number of infected persons was 339,000 and about 20,000 became blind due to onochocerciasis (Budden, 1956). However, following the comprehensive nationwide prevalence survey by the National Onchocerciasis Control programme (NOCP) from 1987 to 1990, it was realized that the disease was prevalent in 32 states. The survey further revealed that nearly 30 million people needed treatment in Nigeria. With this revelation, the international health community – health ministers, donors, non-governmental development partners, UN agencies, health experts and the media converged at Abuja, Nigeria's capital to discuss on how to rid Africa of the River Blindness scourge. After three days of deliberations, participants at the 16th session of the Joint Action Forum (JAF), the Governing Board of the World Health Organization, African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (WHO/APOC) reaffirmed commitment toward ending the socio-economic and human devastation of the blinding disease in Africa (Ejime 2011).

River blindness is one of the world's major endemic parasitic diseases which affects the eye and can lead to blindness when it reaches an advanced stage in the human body (Edungbola, 1991; Lieze, 1991). In 1999, two agencies, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), agreed to VISION 2020 - The Right to Sight. Its goal was to eliminate avoidable blindness by the year 2020. And in 2014, the two agencies again, in partnership, launched the global initiative to eradicate blindness by the year 2020 - VISION 2020, The Right to Sight. They focused on two fundamental areas: health and sight as a human right and tackling a disability, specifically visual disability. These developmental agencies, have sustained the campaign against river blindness in Africa (WHO, 1987).

Carter Center in 2012, estimates that up to 27 million Nigerians live with the disease in different parts of the 32 states and needed treatment. The Center provided health education and Mectizan treatment to more than 6 million people in more than 8,100 villages. This initiative has however, received quite an appreciable number of support in the last couple of years. This support came from organizations and NGOs based in Nigeria through partnership with the Center in the fight against onchocerciasis (Carter Center, 1995). The National Onchocerciasis Control Programme in 1993 reported that the disease is presently at varying degrees in all states of the federation. In Nigeria, over 15 thousand Nigerian rural communities are endemic to the disease (Pond, 1995). The fact that Nigeria is the most onchocerciasis endemic country in the world has prompted the Federal Ministry of Health in the country to embark on control measures (Gyoh, 1993).

The disease is found mostly in rural agricultural villages that are located near rapidly flowing streams or river areas. It is the second-leading infectious cause of blindness. It is caused by the parasite onchocerca volvulus and is transmitted to humans through the bite of the simulium species of black flies. These black flies are common in fast flowing river areas (WHO, 2015).

Vision is associated with the eyes-part of the facial appearance and wholesomeness and self-esteem. A disfigurement of the eyes is a disability as it results in stigmatization, discrimination, and low self-esteem. This aspect can also be linked to poverty. River blindness is both a cause and consequence of poverty. The disabled suffer from exclusion, in its wider sense, which pushes them into poverty.

River blindness (onchocerciasis) is endemic in some communities in Kwara State. Edungbola (1982) reported an average prevalence rate of about 64 per cent. Particularly, a prevalence rate of about 68 per cent has been reported in Patigi area, thus making the area one of the most endemic part of Kwara State. The State government has also mapped out strategies to eliminate this debilitating disease in affected communities in the state.

Similarly, Niger State, for instance, has been confirmed onchocerciasis endemic state following a National Survey, (Niger State Strategic Health Development Plan 2010-2015), hence the following statement by Niger State Government:

Niger State Government earmarked N16 million in the 2013 budget to fight blindness in the state. Governor Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu made this known at a three-day free eye care programme organized by Talba Success Movement in partnership with the State Eye Health Programme at Ibeto in Magama Local Government Area. The Governor identified the Eye as one of the most vital component in the human body hence the need to take proper care of it. He used the medium to call on all stakeholders, traditional institutions and philanthropists to prioritize healthcare services in order to achieve a healthy society.

Studies  by    Galadima, Dada,  Maiganda  and  Opaluwa,  (1992)  show  higher prevalence in males than females in Zaria, Nigeria. Also, similar findings were recorded by Opaluwa, Galadim, Odama and Nock (1999) in Niger State.

Retired General T.Y. Danjuma in 2010 donated the sum of US$1 million, as a survivor of river blindness. As a young officer in the Nigerian Army, he was infected by the disease and was promptly treated. Following the example of the huge sum of money he donated in 2011, the Federal government pledged US$5 million to APOC (African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control) to assist with its control efforts to eradicate river blindness in Nigeria (Sixteenth Session of the Joint Action Forum (APOC – Abuja, 2010)......

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