‘Nigeria still records 1,000 new leprosy cases yearly
Nigeria is among the few countries in the world that are still reporting greater than 1,000 new leprosy cases yearly.
Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora, who disclosed this at an event to commemorate the 2022 World Leprosy Day, yesterday, in Abuja, observed that leprosy “is still a public health problem in Nigeria,” adding that about 18 states in the federation are still endemic, “although anecdotal evidence suggests pockets of leprosy endemicity in almost every state of the federation, according to the report of the 2015 National Leprosy review.”
Mamora stated that in 2020, Nigeria announced 1,508 new leprosy cases, adding that a five-year trend of newly notified cases showed multi-bacillary (infectious type) leprosy proportion of over 90 per cent proportion of cases with visible deformity of over 13 per cent and child proportion of over six per cent.
He, however, explained that the number of new leprosy cases detected yearly has significantly dropped from over 7,827 in 1994 to less than 2,000 in 2020.
The minister noted that the ailment “is a mildly infectious disease caused by a slow multiplying bacillus, Mycobacterium Leprae, with incubation period of about five years,” adding that symptoms can take as long as 20 years to appear.
He went on: “The disease mainly affects the skin, peripheral nerves, mucosa of the upper respiratory tract, and also the eyes. Leprosy is transmitted via droplets, from the nose and mouth, during close and frequent contacts with untreated cases. Untreated leprosy could lead to life-long disabilities affecting the skin, nerves, limbs and eyes.
“The Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), through the National TB, Leprosy & Buruli Ulcer Control Programme (NTBLCP), with the support of partners since Nigeria was among the countries that attained the World Health Organization (WHO) elimination target of less than one leprosy case per 10,000 populations at the national level in the year 2000.
“All 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the country have at least one multi-drug therapy (MDT) clinic for management of leprosy patients. Twenty-five referral/rehabilitation centres for persons affected by leprosy patients have been established nationwide.”