Public Health Ministry widening sensitisation and healthcare services

─ as World Leprosy Day is observed

DPI, Guyana, Sunday, February 3, 2019

The Ministry of Public Health is working to improve active awareness about leprosy across the country. With this in mind a health walk was hosted on Saturday to observe the World Leprosy Day 2019, under the theme “‘Ending Discrimination, Stigma and Prejudice’

Director of Leprosy Control Programme, attached to the Ministry Dr. Heather Morris-Wilson said the Leprosy Department would hold a health walk annually to raise awareness of discrimination, and social stigma has on people affected by leprosy, and how these negative attitudes hamper efforts to stop the spread of the disease.

According to Dr. Wilson, several persons in Guyana suffer from the disease and are exposed to effective medication and rehabilitation through the Leprosy Control Programme.

“The treatment is very long but its worth it, because when you think about the disabilities, you can be afflicted with if you do not treat the disease. It’s, well worth the wait and the discipline to take the treatment. The common sign is a rash on the skin that can be on any part of the body without any symptoms. With that said it can be difficult to detect by a health professional if the right test is not taken,” Dr. Morris-Wilson explained.

Dr. Wilson further said that there were 49 advance cases of Leprosy for 2018, which were mostly children but she emphasised that the Ministry of Public Health is taking stringent measures to curb the disease.

She pointed out that leprosy is curable; hence there is a need to reduce discrimination since the intolerance shown to affected persons often serves as a deterrent to them receiving treatment. “Persons that have the disease should not be placed or isolated in sanitoriums. However, these persons can come into the Palms Geriatric or Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Centers for treatment.”

The World Health Organization (WHO), in 2016, launched its ‘Global Leprosy Strategy 2016-2020,’ which focuses on three main pillars, these are, to strengthen government ownership and partnerships, to stop leprosy and its complications and to end discrimination and promote inclusion with an objective to have zero children with leprosy-affected disabilities, fewer patients diagnosed with leprosy-related deformities and a repeal of all laws that allow discrimination of leprosy patients.

Ayana George

Images: Giovannie Gajie

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