KATHMANDU: In what another imminent failure, Nepal is running out of time to meet the target set by World Health Organisation (WHO) for eliminating leprosy for the third time.
Nepal had failed twice to live up to the expectation to make the disease a history in the country for two times earlier. The third deadline served by WHO to Nepal will expire this December.
GD Thakur, director, Leprosy Control Division (LCD), claimed that the government is going to declare the elimination of leprosy in the country by the end of 2009. He said that they were monitoring and evaluating the cases with the help of WHO experts presently.
In 2002 and 2005, the world health body had proposed the elimination of disease. The disease is yet to be eliminated in three countries -- Nepal, West Timor and Brazil.
Thakur informed that they were detecting and treating leprosy patients through "chasing approach", in which the paramedics visit the patient, the family members and neighbours.
Mitha Ram Thapa, senior leprosy supervisor, LCD, under Ministry of Health and Population, said that they were near the target proposed by the WHO.
The elimination means bringing leprosy prevalence to less than 1 per 10,000 people.
According to LCD, in the fiscal year 1982/83 around 31,537 patients were registered for treatment while the number has gone down to 3,009 by mid-July 2009. The prevalence rate during 2008/09 is 1.09 per 10,000 people.
They had recorded 4,565 new cases of leprosy where 32 per cent are recorded among women.
The prevalence rate is less than one per 10,000 in 54 districts. At present, 13 districts have a prevalence of 1 to 2 per the 10,000 people. While, the rate is 2 to 3 in six districts.
According to the LCD data, Dhanusha and Sarlahi districts have the greatest prevalence rate of the disease i.e. more than three out of 10,000 people.
The distribution of leprosy remained highly focal in Nepal with two regions i.e. Eastern Development Region and Central Development Region accounting for 63.60 per cent.
"The government was unable to meet the target twice due to conflict and lack of leadership," said Thapa, adding that the social stigma is also one of the reasons behind the failure of achieving the target.
He also added Tarai accounted for more than 80 per cent of the total recorded cases of leprosy.