Leprosy still high in Western and Eastern Provinces
The number of leprosy patients may have declined dramatically in the
past two decades for Sri Lanka to achieve the WHO Elimination target of
less than 10,000 cases per population by 1995. However, a few districts
still have a higher number of patients than the Elimination target, Anti
Leprosy Campaign sources told the Sunday Observer.
The districts cited as having a slight increase in the number of
cases over the past three years are Colombo, Ampara, Polonnaruwa,
Batticaloa, Puttalam, Kalutara, Hambantota, Gampaha, Matara and
"This is because most people still believe that leprosy does not
exist and has been eradicated. Hence, they don't recognise the symptoms
and delay taking treatment. The delay in early detection and treatment
is harmful to the patient and non-infected persons who could contract
the disease", the sources said.
There are 2,000-2,200 new cases every year. "Unless those who suspect
they have leprosy are treated, it is likely that we would continue to
have new leprosy cases every year and we will be unable to eliminate it
from the country. Awareness programs are now being held to pass on this
message to the public with drugs being distributed and treatment centres
set up in all government hospitals island-wide".
"The drugs are free and if continued for the prescribed period, the
patient can recover completely within a short time," the sources said.