Contagious: Experts stress need for eradicating leprosy in Pakistan

KARACHI: An estimated 300 new leprosy cases are being registered annually in Pakistan but there is need to work hard to achieve the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) strategy for 2016-20 so that leprosy can be eradicated from the country.

These thoughts were expressed by experts, including Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre (MALC) Chief Executive Officer Mervyn Lobo, Dr Ali Murtaza and leprosy specialists Dr Mutaher Zia and Savio Pereira in a press briefing organised by MALC to mark World Leprosy Day.

Lobo said these new cases are less than 1% in every 100,000 patients who are under treatment. According to the WHO’s strategy for 2016-20, three targets have been set – zero transmission, zero disability in girls and boys and zero discrimination. There is need to work hard to achieve these targets so that leprosy can be eradicated, Lobo said.

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He said MALC has been working for the elimination of leprosy, tuberculosis and blindness from Pakistan for the last 65 years. Since MALC’s inception, more than 57,000 leprosy patients have received free of charge treatment at 157 MALC leprosy centres across Pakistan. In Sindh, leprosy cases are still being reported from the slums areas of Karachi, Dadu and Jacobabad.

Every year, World Leprosy Day is celebrated around the globe on the last Sunday of January. This day is commemorated to refresh the world to pledge alliance with people affected by leprosy.

Lobo was of the view that 2017 was a sad year for the MALC and the whole nation as they lost the person behind the leprosy control programme, Dr Ruth Pfau, who was a founding member of MALC.

She devoted 57 years of her life to the cause and passed away at the age of 87.

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She has been a symbol of peace and love all through her life for the downtrodden, he said.

Doctors Murtaza and Zia said that it seem 531 leprosy patients were under-treatment and on medication this year.

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