MALC held a press conference to commemorate 65th World Leprosy Day.
Every year, around the globe, World Leprosy Day is celebrated on the last Sunday. This day is commemorated to refresh the world to pledge alliance with people affected by Leprosy. No disease in the modern world has faced stigma of equal nature as Leprosy. MALC has been working to eliminate Leprosy from Pakistan for last sixty years. Like every year this year as well MALC has arranged a series of events to raise awareness about Leprosy. Besides this to share our achievements mainly to keep Leprosy under control and to spread the key message that Leprosy is not a curse, it is a treatable disease like any other disease.
According to WHO’s strategy for 2016 – 2020, three targets have been set, Zero Transmission, Zero Disability in girls and boys, Zero Discrimination. We all need to work hard to achieve these targets so that Leprosy could be eradicated. Key to zero disability is early detection and treatment, Leprosy can be treated by Multi Drug Therapy from 6 to 12 months depending on the type.
After the control of Leprosy in 1996, each year number of new cases is being reduced and almost +/- 300 new cases are registered annually & it seems Leprosy will still be prevalent considering the slow and variable incubation period, the services have to be kept up for 3 to 4 decades . The new cases are less than 1% in every 100,000/-, patients who are under treatment, less than one in every 10,000, disability ratio is less than one in 100,000, among children less than 10% in new cases. So far we have achieved the targets as per standards developed by WHO. The latest updates according to WHO’s standards are, 0.19% new cases, among them disability ratio is 0.12% and children are approximately 7% in them. Leprosy Control does not mean that it has been eradicated despite all of the achievements, there are still many cases who can infect others. They need to be found early so that they could be treated and to stop further spread of the disease. Apart from this, disability ratio is still 6% in children which is also an alarming situation. This year 531 Leprosy patients are under treatment and on medication. It is important to mention here though there has been a decline in new cases after Leprosy Control but at a very slow pace.
After Leprosy control, in order to continue surveillance and to ensure leprosy services in the field, additional disciplines were added which include Tuberculosis & Blindness control, MCHC along with CBID program to tackle the situation. We feel privileged to acknowledge the support of Federal and Provincial Governments along with our corporate partners and international partners for the cause. Last year MALC registered 202,222 TB patients, among them 3,324 are sputum positive who can be a cause of spreading the disease, they are now leading a healthy life. Likewise, we have facilitated 200,000 eye patients Free of Charge, among them 4,000 Cataract surgeries were also performed through our base hospitals and surgical eye camps. Every year more than 100,000 children are screened for refractive errors and Vitamin A Capsules are given to those who have deficiency. We have also initiated Community Based Inclusive Development program since last three years along with Mother and Child Health Care program in the selected project areas. All of the services provided through MALC are “Free of Charge”.