Leprosy Resurfaced - Sueryder

Balaka district leprosy officer George Anafi has told Zodiak that there is need for an aggressive surveillance system in place to detect leprosy cases following 16 new cases that have resurfaced in the district but was quick to applaud the integration of leprosy and Tuberculosis as an exciting news since leprosy drastically scaled down after funding was halted in 1994.

In a research shared by Suerider with Balaka District Hospital office shows leprosy has resurfaced and there are worries it could escalate in some parts of the district from the impact area where the project specialized.

Leprosy, also known as Hansen disease named after a Norwegian physician Gerhard Henrik Hansen who identified the causative organism in 1873 - is a skin and nerve infection caused by macobacterium leprae.

According to a research carried by Suerider, the project that focused on leprosy findings generated 16 cases in areas of Utale l, ll, and Phimbi which according to leprosy experts the figure is alarming considering the impact area - which is also way beyond the World Health Organization recommendation of 1 case per 10000 of the population.

Executive Director for Suerider, Anthony Chilembwe has told Zodiak, the district hopes this will not escalate to other parts of the district, and hopefully it can be contained and eliminated through the capacity building between stakeholders and govt.

Chilembwe said the myths surrounding leprosy by people that it is not a health issue or a public health concern is what results into resurfacing of the cases.

He however, said the awareness campaign in the area has helped contain the cases but needs more effort by stakeholders and government to address the challenge.

District leprosy officer George Anafi said he is excited with the findings and hopes the integration of leprosy and Tuberculosis combination will be able to address the gap.

Suerider tested 1500 people in the impact area and found 36 people with signs of leprosy with 16 needing critical medical attention.

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