By Sule Aliyui, Bauchi
The Bauchi State Agency for the Control of HIV /AIDS, tuberculosis, leprosy and Malaria (BACATMA) has disclosed that only 206 leprosy cases were recorded in 2017 in the state which represents 0.3 per 10, 000 Population.
The Executive chairman of the Agency, Dr Mansur Dada gave the hint yesterday during a press conference to mark the World Leprosy day, stressing that the state has achieved the global elimination target of one case per 10, 000 population.
The achievement according to him was recorded as a result of series of activities carried out by his agency to curtail the disease in the state which includes: intensification of leprosy case finding, provision of drugs free of charge to patients and treatments.
He however stated that the increase in new cases among children is posing new challenges.
Dada enumerated some of the symptoms of leprosy to include skin patch lighter than the surrounding skin, pale skin, and loss of sensation of touch, pain, loss of eyebrows, eye lashes, damage, blinking, and painful peripheral nerves of hands, feet and facial disfigurement among others.
He however explained that although it is an air born disease, leprosy is curable if diagnosed, treated early. The 2018 World Leprosy Day was themed: ‘Zero Disabilities In Boys’ and Girls’.
The 2017 state statistics showed the number of children among these new cases was 32 (15.5%) indicating leprosy transmission still ongoing in the communities and number of cases diagnosed with visible disability (G2 Disability) was 22 (11%), indicating adults with leprosy presenting late for treatment. This ugly trend is seen similarly globally and national levels,” he said.
Dr Dada disclosed that there are many challenges being faced by the agency in its fight against the disease. According to him, the main challenges include; dwindling financial support especially withdrawal of funds by international donors and ow community awareness.
Other challenges are; Low leprosy cases notification, high percentage of children with leprosy among new cases and high percentage of persons with disability among new cases detected.
He however noted that the agency had recorded success in the fight against the disease from 2015 to 2017 through intensification of leprosy case finding, renovation and equipping of leprosy unit at Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH) Bayara, provision of drugs and other medical consumables and intense Anti-Leprosy campaigns.
He said that the agency had planned to undertake many programmes in 2018 towards tackling the spread of the disease in the state.
According to him, the planned activities include; strengthening active leprosy search and mini leprosy elimination campaigns, supporting local government TBL supervisors with logistics vehicles and awareness campaigns through the media.
Other activities to be carried out by the agency will also include renovation of Bayara IDH Theatre to be conducting surgeries on leprosy patients with complications and provide the necessary drugs and other medical consumables.
The chairman also advocated for the enactment of laws that would eradicate stigmatization and discrimination against persons suffering from leprosy in order to bring succour to them.
The agency boss Dr. Dada used the forum to commend governor Muhammad Abdullahi Abubakar for his commitment in the fight against leprosy.
By Sule Aliyui, Bauchi