World Leprosy Day: Early detection, treatment prevent disability - WHO
The World Health Organisation, WHO, says early detection and treatment of leprosy will prevent patients from disabilities.
Yohei Sasakawa, WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination, stated this in commemoration of World Leprosy day held in Abuja.
He noted that World Leprosy Day is observed internationally every year on the last week of January to increase the public awareness of the Leprosy Disease.
According to Sasakawa, through the efforts of many people, leprosy is an easily curable disease and the drugs are distributed free of charge.
In his words, “despite the progress of science and the fact that leprosy can be treated with drugs, just like other diseases, there are still people suffering from the unwarranted discrimination that exists toward leprosy.
This is because there are people who have been separated from their families and who have been unable to continue at school.
“They are some who have lost their jobs and who have missed out on the chance of marriage."
Sasakawa added that even after they have been cured, they are still labelled as ‘ex-patients’ and continue to face discrimination.
According to him, WHO are not only fighting the disease, but also the prejudice and discrimination that have infected society.
The ambassador said new cases of leprosy were still being discovered in many countries and regions.
He said people often do not go to a clinic or hospital because they think of leprosy as a shameful disease.
Sasakawa stated that this is one of the biggest obstacles to early diagnosis and treatment.
He, however, called people to show compassion and understating towards the patients so that they can go to hospitals and clinics to receive treatment.
The Ambassador said the occasion of World Leprosy Day made him to reflect on the harsh life that persons affected by leprosy have had to endure.
In his words, "Leprosy is not a disease of the past. It is an ongoing issue. Let us make today a new beginning. Let us do our best together,’’ he said.