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Leprosy resurfaces in Mchinji District

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By Rebecca Chimjeka:

Although World Health Organisation (WHO) declared in 1994 that leprosy had reached elimination levels in Malawi, the disease is attacking some people in the country.

Cases of leprosy have been recorded in Mchinji District since 2017, Ministry of Health spokesperson, Joshua Malango, confirmed Monday.

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Malango said they were aware that some areas, Mchinji inclusive, are registering a few numbers of leprosy patients.

“We have reached WHO elimination levels for leprosy in Malawi but we still have a few cases of leprosy in some communities. If anyone sees unusual skin patches on their body, let them go to a nearest health facility where they will be informed if it is leprosy or not. It is important to be treated for leprosy without delay because doing so prevents leprosy from spreading to other people in the community. Doing so also prevents the development of physical disability,” Malango said.

He said the ministry has National Leprosy and Skin Diseases Control Programme to ensure timely treatment of leprosy.

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Malango said leprosy medication is available in hospitals and the programme also caters for physical disabilities which leprosy causes sometimes.

He further said there are programmes to ensure that leprosy is prevented through health education.

The Daily Times has also established that, in some health centres in districts such as Balaka, patients have been put on treatment.

Meanwhile, Malawi Health Equity Network Executive Director, George Jobe, has said there is need for an assessment so as to find more people with symptoms of leprosy and put them on treatment.

“When a disease is dealt with, medical workers should continue to be reminded of its signs and symptoms. We have gathered that it is the district hospital [in Mchinji] which identified the disease after Kochilira referred some of the patients there. Kochilira Health Centre workers seemed to have missed that the patients had signs of leprosy,” he said.

He added that the resurgence should be a wake-up call that Kochilira communities should remain under surveillance as, in the past, the health facility was a centre for leprosy patients.

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