DAVAO CITY- Though leprosy was eliminated by the World Health Organization in 1998. The Department of Health, through its National Leprosy Control Program, wants to totally eradicate local transmission by 2030.
“In fact na eliminate na ang leprosy in 1998 as per the World Health Organization, but further studies that were conducted Nakita na even though na-eliminate na ang leprosy in 1998, there are still new cases that were seen in just ten years from 2008 to 2018 they saw 1,500-2,000 new cases of leprosy worldwide,” says Evelyn Uy Gepito, nurse coordinator of the National Leprosy Control Program in DOH Region 11 said.
Gepito said they recorded 49 leprosy cases in Davao Region in 2022, with Davao del Sur province logging 14.
“Luckily, Nakita ni siya and natambalan (luckily, they were discovered and given treatment),” Gepito said.
She said the NLCP has three targets for 2030 which they hope will fully eradicate the disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae. These targets are Zero Transmission, Zero leprosy-caused disability, and Zero discrimination and stigma.
She said leprosy or Hansen’s disease is curable through Multi-Drug Therapy which can be availed in health centers; the leprosy treatment is free as it is provided by the WHO.
Common symptoms of leprosy include the appearance of white spots in the skin similar to “an-an” (tinea versicolor). And unlike an-an these white spots have no sensation.
“Even if you slice that skin with a knife, you won’t feel pain,” Gepito said.
Another symptom is large protruding veins which could also signal leprosy.
“And the third one is the presence of bacilli upon examination using slit-skin smear,” Gepito said.
A person with leprosy can infect another individual thru exposure to droplets with the bacteria.
“We cannot get infected by shaking the hands of people with leprosy, as the mode of transmission is thru droplet with bacteria that causes leprosy,” Gepito said.
She said that people could go to their doctor or health centers where they are assessed and given medicines if they are diagnosed with the disease. Gepito said the leprosy medicines are free and are not sold commercially. (PIA/RG Alama)
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