A total of 115 new leprosy patients were diagnosed in 10 districts of the Karnali Province in the fiscal 2017/18, according to official records. A total of 119 patients were recorded in the province the previous fiscal.
The province health directorate released the data organising a press conference on the occasion of 66th Leprosy Day.
According to Officer Padam KC at the directorate, no one was diagnosed with leprosy in Jumla, Humla and Dolpa districts; while Salyan has the highest number of leprosy patients in the province.
It is said that Salyan has 32 leprosy patients, West Rukum 21, Jajarkot 24, Surkhet 20 and Dailekh seven. Likewise, there are 10 leprosy patients in Kalikot and three in Mugu.
The government aims to eradicate leprosy from the country by 2020.
Although the number of leprosy cases has steadily declined worldwide, an estimated 200,000 cases continue to be reported every year, with India accounting for more than half. Significant numbers are detected elsewhere in the WHO South-East Asia countries, including Nepal, and other places like Brazil, sub-Saharan Africa and the Pacific.
“Though leprosy is often equated with serious deformity and disability, the percentage of patients that present with these symptoms is down to six per cent, demonstrating the disease is being diagnosed earlier than ever. More than that, however, it demonstrates that leprosy needn’t cause the disability and deformity that fuels leprosy-related discrimination, stigma and prejudice,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO regional director for South-East Asia, in the press release issued on the occasion of the World Leprosy Day.
According to her, as core public health interventions such as active case-finding, improved treatment regimens and strengthened surveillance continue to drive-down leprosy’s incidence and spread, the disease’s bio-social components must be brought to the fore.
As outlined in WHO’s Global Leprosy Strategy 2016-2020, policies that promote inclusion and aim at ending leprosy-related discrimination, stigma and prejudice should be front and centre of all leprosy programmes, both as goods in themselves as well as powerful tools to achieve a leprosy-free region and world.
Leprosy-related discrimination, stigma and prejudice are the most powerful barriers to ending leprosy for good, especially given the disease is 100 per cent curable when detected early, said the WHO.RSS