Covid-19 challenging for lepers

Health Watch

THE social and economic upheaval caused by the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has been particularly hard on persons affected by leprosy and their families, an official says.
World Health Organisation (WHO) goodwill ambassador for leprosy elimination Yohei Sasakawa, raised the concern in the lead up to World Leprosy Day on Jan 23.
“Lockdowns implemented by governments have made it harder for them to access treatment and care, deprived them of income-generating opportunities and exacerbated the deprivations their marginalised communities already faced,” he said in a statement.
Sasakawa said with this in mind, in August, he launched an awareness campaign called “Don’t forget leprosy.”
He said the campaign aimed to keep leprosy from slipping from view amid the Covid-19 pandemic and ensure that the needs of those affected by the disease were not neglected.
Sasakawa said data published by the WHO in September for the calendar year 2020, showed a drop in new cases of 37 per cent on the previous year.
“This is evidence that, in many countries, measures against leprosy, including case detection and treatment, have been disrupted by the pandemic,” he said.
“Delays in detecting and treating cases can lead to irreversible physical impairment, so it is essential that these services continue.
“That is why I have been seeking the support of government officials and health professionals for the ‘Don’t forget leprosy’ campaign.”

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