Stigma, discrimination remain barriers to tackling leprosy, says Mamora
• ‘18 states still endemic for disease’
The Federal Government has said that Nigeria’s leprosy control efforts have been bedeviled with stigma and discrimination against persons affected and their families.
About 18 states in the country are still endemic for leprosy.
Minister of State for Health, Olorunimbe Mamora, who stated this at an event to commemorate the 2020 World Leprosy Day in Abuja, said that leprosy is still a public health problem in Nigeria, adding that the country is among few countries in the world that are still reporting greater than 1,000 new leprosy case every year.
Mamora noted that the fear of rejection by family and friends make individuals to be scared of seeking early care if they suspect leprosy, adding that stigma and discrimination discourage integration of persons affected back to their communities even after they have been cured.
He said that the Federal Ministry of Health through the National TB and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP), with the support of partners, had successfully treated over 33,000 leprosy patients since 2009 till date.
Mamora, who emphasised that leprosy is curable, treatment is free and early reporting significantly reduces the chances of having deformities, urged Nigerians to end discrimination against persons affected by the disease.
He, therefore, reaffirmed government’s commitment to working with partners to ensure effective and sustained leprosy control in line with the 2016-2020 global leprosy strategy.