ECD schools participate in Leprosy awareness campaign
GINA, GUYANA, Monday, October 31, 2016
The Ministry of Public Health has embarked on a public education campaign on Hansen’s disease also known as leprosy, targeting primary and secondary schools on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD).
Eight schools participated in a recent leprosy awareness poster competition; St. Paul’s, Vryheid’s Lust, Lusignan and Paradise Primary Schools, and Cummings Lodge, Annandale and Hope Secondary Schools and President’s College.
The competition saw children from the participating schools creating leprosy awareness posters using things in their environment. The ECD schools were selected to participate in the competition based on statistics which show that most of the new cases of the disease are from the Demerara-Mahaica region.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there was a campaign launched in the 1990s to eliminate leprosy as a public health problem by 2000. Elimination as defined by the WHO is a reduction in the number of patients with leprosy requiring multi-drug therapy to less than one per 10,000 people.
The goal of leprosy elimination at a global level was recorded by the year 2002, and as of 2014 none of 122 countries where leprosy was endemic in the 1990s still had the prevalent rates as were recorded.
Guyana has made significant strides in eliminating leprosy through awareness mediums.
Leprosy is caused by the mycobacterium leprae of bacteria that multiplies very slowly. This chronic infection affects the skin and outer nerves
of the body causing skin sores, nerve damage, and muscle weakness. Its incubation period can last up to 20 years.
Minister in the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings in seeking stakeholders’ collaboration to raise awareness of the disease urged, “Together let us make every possible effort to spread awareness about leprosy, its treatment, its care and rehabilitation of our infected patients. Over the years, the scourge of leprosy has remained on humanity. There is a great need to empower those who have been socially discriminated on account of leprosy through advocacy and information dissemination.”
Over the years, the Ministry of Public Health has been working towards eliminating the disease. Significant strides have been made through implementation of a local control programme, in addition to a variety of public awareness and education programmes.
Dr. Cummings said that the Ministry of Public Health will continue to champion a determined effort to drive awareness about the leprosy programme forward.
By: Delicia Haynes