Karachi: Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre’s (MALC) Consultant Dr Mutahir Zia said here that of the total 56,500 leprosy patients registered with Pakistan’s leprosy control programme since its inception, 98 per cent of them have successfully completed their treatment.
He was speaking at a seminar held to create awareness about leprosy in connection with World Leprosy Day 2016 under the aegis of MALC at Pakistan America Culture Center (PACC).
MALC’s founder member Dr Ruth Pfau, Dr Chris Schmotzer, Mervyn Lobo, Dr Ali Murtaza, also spoke on Leprosy situation in Pakistan.
Dr Zia said that MALC had been carrying out community development projects and working for the elimination of leprosy, TB and blindness from Pakistan for the last 56 years, besides 98 per cent of leprosy patients were treated free of cost in 157 centres of MALC across Pakistan.
He said about 400 to 500 new cases are being registered at MALC every year and it is estimated that this will continue for 2 decades. In 2014, a total of 501 new patients were registered in Pakistan, out of which 46pc are in Sindh.
He said 157 leprosy control centres are operating across the country in close collaboration with provincial governments and providing services to the patients and communities free of charge.
Talking about the major symptoms of leprosy, he said these include stains on body, problems in nerve and muscle.
Prominent skin specialist, Manzoor Memon, said leprosy is transformable disease like TB, but less harmful as compared to TB. He said early detection is the key to prevent a leprosy patient from disability. Emphasizing the need for creating awareness about leprosy, he said that a leprosy patient could infect other people.
Dr Chris Schmotzer said that 2,13,899 new leprosy patients were registered in 2014 and of them 154,834 were recorded in South Asia.
She appealed to the people to do away with stigma attached to the disease and tendency to ostracise the sufferers. She also requested doctors to cooperate with MLC in providing necessary guidance to the patients by visits the centre.
Dr Ruth Pfau said leprosy day not only symbolizes our feelings of togetherness and love with patients affected by leprosy, but also provides us an opportunity to work for leprosy and renew our commitment for a leprosy free world.
In 1996, leprosy was controlled in Pakistan. The prevalence of the disease reduced to the extent that the World Health Organization declared the disease to be under control in Pakistan, one of the first countries in the region to achieve this goal.
Speakers said there are many challenges in terms of physical and social rehabilitation, which will go on even in the post elimination phase. The achievement of gradual elimination of leprosy was because of the concerted efforts by a team of committed workers.