The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) has urged Federal Government to prioritise the eradication of leprosy.
In a statement by its Chairman of the National Committee on Neglected Tropical Diseases, Sebastine Oiwoh, the association called for sustained funding from governments to eradicate the disease.
The statement said the NMA President, Dr. Uche Ojinmah stressed that Nigeria should Act Now and End Leprosy while speaking during 2023 World Leprosy Day.
NMA hailed efforts at controlling and eliminating leprosy but called for more work to reach zero leprosy by 2030.
It said timely prevention or early diagnosis from the time a patient has painless skin discoloration will help prevent disability.
The statement reads: “Leprosy is an ancient, stigmatizing, infectious neglected tropical disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae. It is one of the oldest diseases of mankind that has seen a downward global trend of diagnosis following the simultaneous COVID-19 pandemic.
“This caused a 30 percent drop below the 200,000 annually diagnosed with leprosy before COVID-19, according to World Health Organisation. This disabling disease has plagued mankind for at least 4000 years through respiratory droplet infection as well as prolonged contact.
“Depending on the burden of infection, it affects the lining of the upper respiratory tract, the skin, peripheral nerves, and eyes among others. It must be noted that it is not spread through shaking hands or hugging, sharing meals, or sitting next to a person with leprosy.
“It is curable and preventable if adequate health education, early presentation to hospital with prompt diagnosis followed by timely treatment initiation, and sustained surveillance are ensured”.