Collective efforts for total leprosy elimination stressed

Collective efforts for total leprosy elimination stressed

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Narrating its social burden and other bad impacts, health specialists said creating mass-awareness about sign and symptoms of leprosy and availability of its free treatment are very important to build a leprosy-free society.To this end, synergic effort is needed so that all the leprosy cases are detected early as the disease is curable. Moreover, treatment is free of cost in all upazila health complexes and other binary and tertiary hospitals.Damien Foundation, Bangladesh is also implementing ‘Rajshahi Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Project’ in collaboration with the ministry of health to address the problem. This project covers 25 upazilas in three districts, Rajshahi, Naogaon and Nawabganj, with a population of about 68, 49,919.Success of treatment is also significant in both multiple bacillary and posy bacillary cases, they added.Referring to various research findings and studies Dr Afsar Siddiqui, Assistant Professor of Sex, Skin and Venereal Diseases of Rajshahi Medical College Hospital, said leprosy mainly affects the skin and superficial segments of peripheral nerves but can affect any tissue except brain and spinal cord. However, it is not a hereditary disease.Elaborating the major sign and symptoms of leprosy, he said late case diagnosis, little knowledge among community people, social stigma and limited mental health services are the challenges towards eradicating the disease.As leprosy service providers are limited in our country all authorities concerned should extend cooperation towards existing organizations and to encourage new ones to work for the leprosy patients.Emphasis should be given to initiating a social movement so that no leprosy patient is out of treatment as the untreated cases are the only source of more infection, Dr Afsar Siddiqui added.He revealed that the major sign and symptoms of leprosy are hypo pigmented anesthetic skin patch, nodules under skin and thickening of earlobe, depressed nose, painless ulcer, numbness of fingers or claw fingers, foot drop due to damage of lateral poplitial nerve and lagophthalmos due to facial nerve damage.Dr Abdus Sobhan, Civil Surgeon, said Bangladesh has made appreciable progress in the control of leprosy by achieving the elimination goal. But it will take some more years before the prevalence will be below 1 per 10,000 populations in some parts of the region.He said one of the main contributions was establishing the epidemiological link of nerve function impairment – risk factors, prevention, diagnosis and treatment.Strong political commitment and provision of adequate resources from the higher authorities concerned including the donor agencies are very important factors contributing to achievement of the total elimination. -BSS, Rajshahi

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