As he steps up to play his first Africa Cup of Nations game for Nigeria on Saturday, national team defender William Troost-Ekong will be playing for a cause. The 25-year-old has committed himself to the fight against Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) that affect more than 120 million Nigerians.
Neglected tropical diseases are a group of parasitic and bacterial infectious diseases that affect more than 1.5 billion of the world’s most impoverished people, including 869 million children. They include intestinal worms, schistosomiasis (bilharzia), river blindness, trachoma, and lymphatic filariasis.
William is hoping that every Nigerian will participate in the free treatment campaigns from several END Fund partners across the country. In 2018, Ekong joined the global charity Common Goal where he pledged one percent of his salary to football for good causes. He is now working in partnership with the New York-based the END Fund to send this important message to the country.
“Like the rest of the team, I joined Common Goal because I wanted to use football as a tool to make a difference. I’m proud that we’re partnering with the END Fund to challenge every Nigerian to tackle neglected tropical diseases or NTDs,” said William.
“600 million people in Africa need treatment for these diseases with over 120 million living in Nigeria alone.
“Football is a powerful force in Nigeria and as a footballer and parent, I believe we should do everything we can to end these preventable and treatable diseases that stand between you and your goals.
‘So the next time a health worker comes to your school, community or place of worship make sure you take the free medicine that they are giving out. Keep the ball rolling – spread the word to your family and friends and let’s be the generation to beat NTDs,” he concluded.
Dr. Chukwuma Anyaike, Director and National Coordinator of the Neglected Tropical Diseases Elimination Programme, Federal Ministry of Health Nigeria, described the campaign as an important opportunity to bring attention to NTDs in the country.
“We are very delighted to have William join the Federal Ministry of Health and our partners in Nigeria’s fight against neglected tropical diseases, we hope that this campaign helps to highlight the importance of the fight against NTDs in Nigeria and across the continent,” Dr. Anyaike said.