WHO-backed leprosy campaign set for launch


Yangon, 31 July — The Health Ministry plans to conduct a leprosy awareness campaign in high disease burden areas this year with the support of the WHO, while also aiming to indentify new cases, an official said Friday.
The first phase is scheduled to start in 20 rural health branches in 14 townships in Mandalay, Sagaing, Magway, Ayeyawady and Bago regions in August and September, according to Dr Kyaw Kyaw Linn of the Myanmar Leprosy
Control Programme.
“The second phase covers 40 health branches in more than 20 townships in Nay Pyi Taw, as well as five regions included in the first phase from October through December,” he said.
“We will make field trips to villages to look for new leprosy sufferers. The early discovery of leprosy cases could help patients through multi-drug therapy, which can prevent disability.”
According to the ministry’s figures, 2,877 total new cases were diagnosed in 2014. Of them, 145 cases including 10 child patients were found to be grade-2 disability.
As one of the nine objectives of the program, the ministry aims to reduce the rate of new grade-2 disability cases by at least 35 percent by the end of 2015 compared to 2010, Dr Kyaw Kyaw Linn said.
Myanmar is one of the top 17 countries where leprosy is endemic, according to a 2013 WHO survey.  There are still around 3,000 new cases diagnosed across the country each year, including 100 child cases.
In 2014, Mandalay Region recorded the highest number of leprosy cases with 547, followed by Yangon with 439 and Sagaing with 402.
The country achieved a WHO leprosy elimination target of fewer than one case per 10,000 population in 2003.—GNLM

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