Early detection and prompt medical attention have been described as major ways of achieving zero level in leprosy disability and discrimination as the world marks leprosy day.
Leprosy, a chronic infectious disease, caused by Mycobacterium leprae is known to occur at all ages ranging from early infancy to very old age. It is Curable, however, if it is detected early.
According to the World Health Organization leprosy affects over two hundred and twelve thousand people globally.
In new cases of the disease, 8.9% of children are affected while 6.7% presented with visible deformities.
In Ondo state, statistics indicate that only five cases of leprosy was detected in 2017 as against thirty in 2012.
Research has also shown that those suffering from leprosy also face stigmatism and discrimination as some people believe that the disease was contagious, incurable, hereditary, some even tagged it heaven’s punishment.
In an interview with Radio Nigeria, the Coordinator of Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Buruleurlcer in Ondo State, Dr Samuel Akingbesote who described leprosy as a tropical disease which affects the skin, peripheral nerves, and the mucusal membrane of the upper respiratory explained that the disease was curable if detected early.
Dr Akingbesote however noted that despite global progress in the reduction of leprosy cases, discrimination and stigmatization still posed huge threat to social inclusion of leprosy affected people.
The medical expert hinted that as part of efforts to eliminate the disease in Ondo State, Health workers have been trained in all the eighteen local governments to create awareness on leprosy in addition to an effective free multi-drug therapy available in all hospitals.
To achieve the theme for this year’s commemoration which is “Zero Disabilities in Girls and Boys” Dr Akingbesote advised parents to visit the hospital whenever their children had skin rashes for proper diagnosis and treatment while government at all levels should step up treatment to prevent disabilities and also provide rehabilitation service to affected persons.