The event is aimed at educating people to understand that leprosy also known as Hansen’s disease is curable and that the sufferers of the illness have chances of being treated to live a healthy live.
According to the World Health Organisation, a research conducted around the world indicates that stigmatization still exists even with its prevention and cure.
Leprosy, which is an air borne infection that makes one disable, can be transmitted. The Medical Adviser, German Leprosy and Relief Association, Enugu State, Mr. Joseph Chukwu, while commenting on the theme of this year’s celebration said despite sufficient free drugs available for the treatment of leprosy, the disease could be transmitted from an affected person to unaffected person who had low immunity.
“There is stigma and discrimination. Many people are hiding in the community. So we believe that if we should go and comb, about 9-10% of the cases are children; meaning people younger than 15 years of age. And this is World Leprosy Day, so we want to really highlight the importance. In fact disability is not good for anybody, whether adult or children”
“Remember if there is leprosy in a child, it means the infection is still being transmitted in the community and therefore that is why we want to say we should kindly look at everybody. But if we really want to do our work well and find people early and treat them, then they will not be transmitting the infection. But as long as we are still finding children with leprosy, it means that transmission is still on-going.”
Mr. Chukwu advised that early signs or symptoms of the disease such as abnormal coloration of the skin, weakness of hands and feet noticed by an individual should be reportedly quickly to a special health care centre for prompt medical attention.
The Enugu State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Sam Ngwu, told Radio Nigeria that the Federal and the State governments were working tirelessly to eradicate the disease. He said the leprosy situation in Nigeria currently had reduced when compared to previous years.
“In all the seventeen Local Governments, we have leprosy supervisors. And this is for early detection because once we can prevent disabilities that is associated with leprosy, we are creating awareness, sensitizing our people that these – our brothers and sisters that they –are human beings, not outcasts. And they are not suffering the disease because of curse from God or some other gods because of sins committed. Also we are trying to use the term to address them as persons affected by leprosy, not lepers.”
To mark the World Leprosy Day, seminars and workshops were organized globally to address the plights of leprosy affected persons and proffer solutions that could end the social stigma they experienced.