NMA Urges FG to End Leprosy

… calls for collaboration to end over 4,000 years long disease

The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has urged the federal government to work hard to stop leprosy in the country.

President of the NMA, Dr. Uche Ojinmah who made this call at this year’s world Leprosy day said immediate and urgent steps must be taken by the government to eradicate leprosy in Nigeria.

Dr. Ojinmah who applauded efforts made to control and eradicate the illness by the government, however, urged for more concentrated efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) aimed at eliminating leprosy in 120 countries by 2030.

The chairman of the NMA National Committee on Neglected Tropical Diseases, NTD, Dr. Sebastine Oiwoh, issued a statement on behalf of the committee which was made known by Dr. Ojinmah during the annual event.

The statement reads; “early detection or timely prevention from the time the patient has that painless skin discoloration will help prevent the disability that later occurs.”

“Mycobacterium leprae, an old, dehumanizing, and infectious tropical illness are what causes leprosy in humans.”

“An illness of public health relevance in Nigeria, it currently affects 4,000 new cases each year, with a disability rate of 1% for Grade 2 and a child-to-adult ratio of over 10%.

“It is one of the oldest human diseases that, despite prior triumphs, has lately experienced a decline in diagnoses worldwide as a result of the concurrent COVID-19 epidemic.

“According to the World Health Organization (WHO), this led to a 30% decrease below the 200,000 people annually diagnosed with leprosy before COVID-19.”

The NMA president elucidated further that the incapacitating illness has affected people for at least 4,000 years due to both respiratory droplet infection and extended exposure.

He eliminated the fear of its being contacted through a handshake.

He said; “the lining of the upper respiratory tract, the epidermis, the peripheral nerves, and the eyes, among other things, are all affected depending on the severity of the illness. It should be underlined that it cannot be spread by simple handshakes, hugs, sharing meals, or sitting next to someone who has leprosy.”

The solution to leprosy, Dr. Ojinmah said is “if proper health education, early hospital presentation with fast diagnosis and timely treatment initiation, and adequate and sustained surveillance are ensured, it is treatable and preventable.”

Ojinmah continued; “leprosy can be eradicated via practical stakeholder collaboration, but the time to start is now as Nigeria has the power and means to stop transmission and fight the disease.

In addition to urging ongoing support from the states and the federal government to ensure appropriate staff and drug availability at all times, he urged prioritizing the collective fight against leprosy.

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