Vanuatu commemorates International Leprosy Day

The Ministry of Health celebrated World Leprosy Day by raising awareness on a disease that many people think does not exist anymore.

Leprosy in Vanuatu is considered to be endemic and is among the 13 neglected tropical diseases on its way to elimination.

Although on this road, the disease is still of public health interest as it continues to be reported every year.

Each year the World Health Organization reports 200,000 people diagnosed with leprosy and there are millions who are living with the damaging consequences of delayed leprosy treatment.

In Vanuatu, Leprosy has affected both men and women 65% of men and 35% of women affected with Leprosy since the year 2000.

Most of these cases have been detected and treated.

In 2021, there were cases of Leprosy reported while in 2020, a total of 7 Leprosy cases were reported.

Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae, an acid- fast, rod shaped bacillus. The disease mainly affects the skin. The peripheral nerves, mucosa of the upper respiratory tract, and the eyes.

It is likely transmitted through droplets, from the nose and mouth during close and frequent contact with untreated cases. Untreated leprosy can cause progressive and permanent damage to the skin, nerves. limbs and eyes.

Worldwide the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted programme implementation and a reduction in new case detection by 37% in 2020 compared with 2019.

"Leprosy is curable if treatment swiftly follows a timely diagnosis, but if patients are not treated, they can be left with irreversible physical impairments and disabilities".

The Ministry of Health with the support from donor partners has been combating Neglected Tropical Disease (NTDs) which are more than twenty diseases, including leprosy, through mass drug administration throughout Vanuatu.

Photo supplied Caption: A Leprosy case


Tensly Sumbe