Nepal | July 11, 2020

300 new leprosy cases detected in four districts

Himalayan News Service
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Kathmandu, March 1

Three hundred new leprosy patients have been detected in Nawalparasi, Rupandehi, Kapilvastu and Kailali districts in a survey, which concluded recently.

The government had deployed health practitioners to conduct a survey on leprosy patients in the affected districts. “Treatment is available for leprosy patients detected during the survey,” said Mohammad Saud, director at Leprosy Control Division. The government also plans to continue active case-finding as early treatment can prevent  disability and deformity resulting from leprosy, he added.

Despite government’s efforts, leprosy cases has been rising constantly in the country for the past two years. As per the data provided by Leprosy Control Division, there were 5,922 leprosy patients in the country in the fiscal 2016-17, up from 5,641 in the fiscal 2015-16. In the fiscal 2014-15, the number stood at 5,477. The government plans to educate people about the disease through media campaigns and awareness programmes.

The government has allocated Rs 30 lakh for 14 leprosy-affected districts to combat the disease. “We are also planning to allocate budget for other leprosy affected districts,” said Saud.

The country was declared leprosy-free in 2010. However, people are still suffering from the disease. Of the 22 leprosy-affected districts in the country, 18 are in the Tarai region that are worst hit by the disease.  Lack of awareness, poor personal hygiene and sanitation, and low economic status of the people are mainly to blame for the increasing number of leprosy patients. “People are not aware of skin-related diseases and its mode of transmission. Social stigma attached to leprosy is still prevalent in the country and that is why people hide the disease,” said Saud.

World Health Organisation says national programmes should boost active case-finding, strengthen surveillance, improve contact-tracing and focus more on early detection of leprosy  among children to meet the target of bringing the number of children suffering from leprosy to zero by 2020.

Leprosy is a chronic disease caused by a slow multiplying bacillus, Mycobacterium leprae.

A version of this article appears in print on March 02, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.

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