DOH sustains advocacy towards leprosy-free Philippines
Tacloban City (February 6) -- The third week of February every year has been declared as the Leprosy Prevention and Control Week in order to deepen the awareness of the people on the disease, prevention and control, Regional Director Edgardo Gonzaga informed.
Director Gonzaga said that the Department of Health said leprosy had exacted a high physical and social toll, which when left untreated, it can result in deformity and disability in many societies, people with leprosy have been made outcasts from their communities.
When the National Leprosy Control Program was established in 1986, there were 38,570 registered leprosy patients in the country, translated to a prevalence rate (PR) of 7.2 per 100 Filipinos.
By the end of 1998, with 7,005 registered patients and a PR of 0.90 per 10,000 population, leprosy was no longer considered as a public health problem by both the DOH and the world Health Organization (WHO).
In 2004, a total of 2,120 new cases of leprosy were diagnosed and all were put under treatment with Multi-drug therapy (MDT) which can be availed of in any health center in the country.
Leprosy is caused by Mycobacterium leprae or leprosy bacilli and was believed to be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. Experts, however, said this was unlikely because M. leprae are not usually found on the skin's surface.
The mode of transmission is airborne, where a person can inhale droplets or spray from coughing and sneezing of untreated leprosy patient.
The signs and symptoms of leprosy are long standing skin lesions that do not disappear with ordinary treatment, loss of feeling/numbness on the skin, loss of sweating and hair growth over the skin lesions, thickened and/or painful nerves in the neck, forearm, near elbow joint and the back of knees.
The DOH recommends immediate treatment, good nutrition, healthful living, enough rest and exercises and a clean environment for the prevention and control of leprosy.
The DOH Leprosy Control Program envisions to eliminate Leprosy as a human disease by 2020 and is committed to eliminate leprosy as a public health problem by attaining a national prevalence rate (PR) of less than 1 per 10,000 population by year 2000.
Its elimination goals are to reduce the national PR of <1 case per 10,000 population by year 1998 and reduce the sub-national PR to <1 case per 10,000 population by year 2000.
The Kilatis Kutis Campaign of the Department of Health is aimed at finding hidden cases of leprosy and put them on multi-drug therapy, with emphasis on the completion of treatment within the WHO prescribed duration.
In Region 8, the Health personnel involved in the Kutis Kilatis Campaign are conducting regular assessments, monitoring and follow up of case contacts and ensures the availability of MDT drugs in the Health Units. (PIA 8) [top]