The World Leprosy Day is observed yearly on the last Sunday in January as chosen by French humanitarian Raoul Follereau in 1954.
This international day is an opportunity to celebrate people who have experienced leprosy, raise awareness of the disease, and call for an end to leprosy-related stigma and discrimination.
Raising awareness of the disease is important because many people still believe that the disease is extinct.
As at today, Nigeria remains one of the 23 global priority countries that contribute 95% of the world’s leprosy burden. An average of 2,500 leprosy cases was reported annually in the last five years.
At present, it is not just the disease that is forgotten, but the people too are also forgotten and neglected by the society.Many people who believe in the existence of the disease say it is not a medical condition rather an extreme religious belief.
The Theme of this year’s celebration on January 29, 2023 is ACT NOW, END LEPROSY. It is a clarion call to all and sundry to join hands in ending this disease.
For immediate diagnosis and treatment,there is need for individuals to present early in health facilities when there are discolorations or patches on any part of the skin, tingling or loss of sensations in the hands, arms, legs & feet.
The transmission of this disease is only through the inhalation of droplets containing the organism (Mycobacterium Leprae), but the main source of infection is the untreated infectious patient.
In Ondo State, a total of Ten (10) leprosy cases were diagnosed in six (6) Local Government Areas in year 2020 While In 2021, a total of Eight (8) cases were diagnosed in five (5) LGAs.
As of year 2022, a total of Thirty (30) cases have been diagnosed and placed on treatment.
The Local Government Area with the highest burden of Leprosy currently is Akure South.
The Control Programme has continued to exert maximum input to the early detection of Leprosy & concomitant placement of patients on medications. The treatment being for between 12 & 18 months which makes it impossible for an infected individual to transmit the disease once consistent treatment begins.
This treatment is supported in the State by the Federal Government through the NTBLCP and also ILEP Partners through the Damien Foundation Belgium, Nigeria Project.
Dr. Oluwafemi Abidemi AINA Programme Manager For the 2022 National Award-Winning TB, Leprosy & BU Control Programme of the Ministry of Health Ondo State.