As the world readies for another world Leprosy Day today (January30), Sri Lanka’s Anti Leprosy Campaign is gearing to put an end to all new cases of leprosy said to be the highest in the Western Province, according to the Epidemiology Unit (EPU) of the Health Ministry.
According to data for 2013; 2,131 new cases of leprosy were detected in Sri Lanka – putting the new case detection rate per 100,000 population to 9.6 %. EPU also said that 8.8% of the newly diagnosed leprosy cases fell into the multi bacillary type indicating a high risk of transmission.
In a breakdown of the diagnosed cases prevailing in the island, EPU data showed that the Western Province was nearly three times higher than in all other provinces with 42% of existing diagnosed cases, followed by the Eastern Province with 15%, Southern Province 2%, North Western Province 10%, North Central Province 8%, and the Northern Province and Central Province with the lowest figures of 4% respectively.
New detection rates were: Colombo 19.27, Kalutara 16.84%, Batticaloa 28.87%, Kalmunai 24.74% and Polonnaruwa 15.62%.
Epidemology sources said they had also listed the deformity incidence per 100,000 population in the affected areas. In this list, they said that Batticaloa had 1.52 deformity cases, Kalmunai 1.51, followed by Polonnaruwa with 1.49, Anuradhapura with 1.05, Mannar with 1.01%, Puttlam 1.05 % and Trincomaleee 0.53% of deformity cases, caused when the disease advanced to stage 2.
Leprosy (Hansen’s disease) was officially recognized as an infectious disease in the Dutch period, when a separate hospital was set up for patients at Hendela.
The disease caused by a slow growing bacterium called mycobacterium leprae said to be transmitted via the respiratory route, affects the skin and nerves causing mild to severe manifestations such as clawed hands.
Asked about treatment and whether the drug situation was satisfactory, a health official told the Sunday Observer that all registered cases of leprosy in Sri Lanka had been treated with Multiple Drug Therapy (MDT) since 1982 and all State facilities had enough drugs to meet the demand.
He said the Anti Leprosy Campaign was currently expanding activities with a network of outreach programs to reach hidden pockets of untreated patients.