500 leprosy cases found, says Official


OVER 500 leprosy cases were reported in 2017 which is too many for Papua New Guinea, an officials says.
The Leprosy Mission PNG country leader Nathalie Smith said 583 leprosy cases were reported in 2017 and they want the numbers to come down to zero.
Leprosy is a bacterial disease that affects the skin and nerves causing loss of sensation, muscle weakness and paralysis.
It does not kill but causes lifelong deformity which makes life challenging: Leprosy can be cured.
The national leprosy elimination programme of PNG ruled out the disease as a public health problem in 2000 but six provinces have yet to eliminate it since then.
These provinces are National Capital District, Central, Western, Gulf, East New Britain and West Sepik.
Smith said the mission wanted to help people come out of poverty, complete the medicine they need in 12 months and be healthy and happy.
“We are working with high endemic leprosy areas and people who are experiencing the effects of leprosy through a sustainable livelihood development project. To improve their livelihood we help them to do savings, budgeting and build small businesses.
“We are working with 25 communities in NCD and Central and are about to start in Western.
She urged everyone to work together with the National Department of Health and World Health Organisation (WHO) to defeat leprosy in PNG.
WHO country representative Dr Luo Dapeng said leprosy affected people that lived in crowded conditions and had difficulties accessing health care services.
“Leprosy can be prevented if detected early. The treatment of leprosy is called Multidrug Therapy (MDT) and is free of charge and available in all health centres,” Dapeng said.