The Rivers state government in partnership with the German Leprosy and Tuberculosis Relief Association has pledged to give 4,000 Naira each to anyone who identifies a case of persons afflicted with leprosy disease as a strategy for accelerated elimination of leprosy in the state.
Commissioner for health, Professor Princewill Chike, who stated this to commemorate the 2019 world leprosy day in the state, with the theme: “Ending Discrimination, Stigma and Prejudice”, said the disease does not only affect the physical health but kills the psychological and socio-economic life of a person.
According to him, in 2018, Rivers state recorded over forty cases of persons diagnosed with leprosy and placed them on treatment, stressing that the disease is curable once the patient receives early medical intervention with an anti-microbial agent.
“In Rivers state, we have made appreciable progress in sustaining the elimination targets by finding new cases and placing them on treatment using an effective combination treatment strategy known as multi-drug therapy (MDT).
“Regrettably, people affected by leprosy still face great challenges especially in their socio-cultural and economic life, with social discrimination due to the physical disability from the disease.
“It is transmitted through coughing, sneezing or contact with body secretions and tissue of an infected person, leprosy may be initially without symptoms and typically remains this way for 5-20 years, however, it is not highly contagious”
Professor Chike called for the continuous support to the persons affected with leprosy.
“We, therefore, call on parents, guardians and the good people of the state to refer any suspected case of leprosy among our people to the nearest health facilities or the state control programme for appropriate management and prevention of disability.
“It is not the duty of the state government, but of all citizens and residents of Rivers state.
“The state ministry of health will continue to work with partners and relevant stakeholders to provide necessary treatment to persons affected with leprosy‘’