Leprosy is curable and treatment is free
─Ministry aims to end discrimination, stigma and prejudice
DPI, Guyana, Friday, January 25, 2019
“We must destroy the myths about the disease, we must pull down the barriers of stigma and discrimination and spread the important message that leprosy can be treated and cured with antibiotics once discovered in the early stages.”
Those were the encouraging words of Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence at the launch of World Leprosy Day at the Umana Yana. Minister Lawrence said leprosy is a disease that is prevalent worldwide. It was also highlighted that while Guyana sees less than 100 cases of leprosy a year, the figures might be higher since not all cases are reported. In 2017, 67 cases were reported of which six percent were children, while in 2018, there were 49 new cases with children catering for 14 percent.
The theme for this year’s observance, “Ending Discrimination, Stigma and Prejudice” was deemed appropriate since those are the elements that prevent many people from seeking treatment. Minister Lawrence encouraged people to be empathetic towards those with the disease and encourage them to access quality healthcare and treatment at the health facilities.
She said that the Public Health Ministry remains committed to working with other government agencies and partners to ensure effective and sustained leprosy control. She pointed out that the ministry also ensures robust integration of leprosy control activities into basic health care services through the revitalisation of primary health care services.
As part of raising awareness, an armadillo mascot was unveiled to give the leprosy programme a face and to destroy the myth that leprosy is a serious, infectious disease.
Leprosy is a contagious disease that affects the skin, mucous membranes, and nerves, causing discolouration and lumps on the skin and, in severe cases, disfigurement and deformities.
Images: Ministry of Public Health.