World Leprosy Day: Minister worries over new cases, stigmatization of victims
Health Minister, Professor Isaac Adewole has expressed concern over the existence of new leprosy cases, saying that in 2015, a total of 2,892 new cases were notified among which 9% were children and 15% have grade 2 disabilities because of late presentation at hospitals.
Speaking in Umuahia on the occasion of 64th/2017 World Leprosy Day with the theme, “Zero Disability Among Children Affected By Leprosy”, he noted that stigma and discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their families is still a major challenge.
According to him, mistaken beliefs about the disease, such as it is highly contagious, hereditary, heaven’s punishment and so on, negatively affects sufferers even after they are cured.
Reiterating that leprosy is curable and treatment is free, he added that as part of efforts to eliminate the disease in the endemic states of the country namely Jigawa, Kano, Kaduna, Kebbi, Bauchi, Taraba, Niger, Kogi, Ebonyi, Abia, Cross River, Edo, Ogun, Osun and Lagos, his ministry launched a five year National Leprosy and Buruli Ulcer Strategic Plan in 2016.
The plan facilitates the implementation of appropriate strategies to increase case detection, improve treatment outcome, prevent disabilities and provide rehabilitation services to affected persons.