KATHMANDU: The government today officially declared the elimination of leprosy from the country, with the prevalence rate of 0.89 per 10,000 people.

Uma Kanta Chaudhary, Minister for Health and Population, announced the achievement made with regard to the infectious disease. He said there are 2,445 lepers under treatment in Nepal at present. Of them, 80 per cent are from the Tarai districts. Thirty-two per cent of the newly detected patients are female, eight per cent children while three of them developed disability before treatment.

Dr Alexander Andjaparidize, World Health Organisation representative to Nepal, said the achievement had been possible due to a joint effort of all concerned. “There should be continuous monitoring of the achievement,” he noted, adding that WHO was looking forward to assisting Nepal to solve health problems.

Committed determination, strong political and social commitments and rapid response toward the disease were major helping factors to achieve the goal, he opined.

Yohei Sasakawa, WHO goodwill ambassador for the elimination of leprosy, said the disease was a major public health concern in Nepal and said the government had prioritised the programme. He said the country should now pave way for its eradication.

Dr Praveen Mishra, secretary, MoHP, said the government was considering rehabilitating leprosy patients to save them social stigma.