Beat Leprosy, End Stigma and Advocate for Mental Well-Being

As coronavirus cases will have come down following the vaccination programme, we need to intensify specific health care services which are infected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Majority of workforce from the health sector have to deployed for the COVID-19 since the second wave in our country and this situation has affected several bacterial and viral disease like malaria and tuberculosis, and screening and identification of leprosy cases.
The World Leprosy Day which falls on 31st January has reminded us to increase the public awareness of the leprosy and to make efforts for an end to ongoing discrimination and stigmatization.
Progress is being made in the fight against leprosy worldwide, but millions are still affected by the disease, and many sufferers have to contend with social exclusion.
According to a survey in 2018, the leprosy rate in Myanmar was 0.39 per 1,000 people. Although our country has seen a decrease in number of leprosy cases has declined nationwide, an estimated 2,000 cases continue to be reported every year.
Leprosy is curable through treatment via drugs, and the treatment in the early stages can prevent disability among the affected people. However, if remained untreated, leprosy can cause progressive and permanent damage to the skin, nerves, limbs, and eyes.
It shows how important is the health care services in timely manner for the patients.
The regional World Health Organization said in its statement on 31 January, that the implementation of WHO’s soon-to-be-launched Global Leprosy Strategy 2021–2030 will mark a bold new era in our battle against leprosy, which will no longer focus on the elimination of leprosy as a public health problem at the national and sub-national levels, but rather on achieving zero leprosy infection and disease, zero disability, and zero leprosy-related stigma and discrimination at all levels.
To do that, the Strategy aims to drive sustained reductions in the world’s 23 high-burden countries, while interrupting transmission in countries that currently report very few cases. Just 35% of leprosy-endemic countries globally report the availability of counselling services for persons affected by leprosy, highlighting the need for targeted action, according to WHO.
A vaccine is not a solution for leprosy but social improvements and leprosy-related health care services can bring the leprosy to an end.
In accordance with this year’s theme: Beat Leprosy, End Stigma and Advocate for Mental Well-Being, we need to step up efforts for dissemination of knowledge on leprosy among the people so that people have the right attitude towards leprosy patients and better healthcare services for the leprosy patients.

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