GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Friday, January 24, 2020 (CMC) – Guyana says it has met the Global Leprosy Strategy 2016-2020 goal of zero cases of children with grade two disabilities.
Director of Leprosy Control Programme, Dr. Heather Morris-Wilson, speaking at a ceremony to officially launch a month of activities in observance of the 68th World Leprosy Day, said Guyana pursued the target of elimination of leprosy as a public health issue with a rate of less than one case per 10,000 persons.
For 2019, the Leprosy Control Programme had recorded 27 new cases – 10 females and 17 males – bringing the total to 60 registered patients and a 0.75 prevalence after calculation at the national level.
“Many leprosy cases can escape detection from the health service. Of the 27 patients discovered, 37 percent were females. The number and percentage of female cases among the new cases are commonly less than male patients. This can indicate differential access in the term of the capacity of the programme and the capacity of the female population to avail to our services,” said Dr. Morris-Wilson.
She said that 82 per cent presented with the severe form of leprosy and that “the Leprosy Control Programme is making a gargantuan effort to stop this trend. We have planned more campaigns to reach areas of high burden”.
The authorities said there were also two child cases among the new patients; however, none presented with visible deformities.
“This programme was able to screen 88 percent of all households and neighbourhood contacts in 2019. Every year we have to aim for examining 100 percent of all contacts of patients with leprosy,” Dr. Morris-Wilson stated.
The Leprosy Control Programme goal is to provide high-quality services based on principles of equity and social justice for reducing the burden of leprosy at the national and sub-national level, while the objectives are to reduce the incidents of new cases of leprosy; to promote earl diagnoses and quality services to prevent disabilities and to provide effective treatment to all persons with active disease.
Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence said the event provides an opportunity to join in the continued fight against the disease.
“Guyana, I am happy to report is considered in the elimination phase by the World Health Organisation standard…. The successes obtained in the treatment of Hansen’s disease worldwide have generated hope that this disease can be eliminated and perhaps eradicated totally. The strategy is very clear; if diagnosed and treated with multi-drug therapy early in its development, leprosy can be brought under control.”
Leprosy, which is caused by a germ, is a transmissible condition which can lead to permanent if left untreated. The disease primarily affects the skin and peripheral nerves in the face, hands and feet with the most common outward sign being a lighter patch of skin.
This year’s event is being held under the theme “Stigma and human rights of persons affected by leprosy”.