By Chioma Obinna & Gabriel Olawale
LAGOS — As Nigeria joined the rest of the World to mark 2017 World Leprosy Day, the World Health Organisation’s Global Health Observatory Data repository has ranked Nigeria as one of the countries in Africa with the highest burden of leprosy even as it recorded 2,892 new cases in 2015.

Meanwhile, no fewer than 212,000 more people were affected by leprosy globally in 2015.

In the Global Health Observatory Data Repository which looked at reported cases country by country, other Africa countries with highest burden of leprosy include Democratic Republic of the Congo with 4,237, followed by Ethiopia with 3,970.

Although each year Nigeria records an insignificant drop in cases, the country in 10 years recorded 43,179 cases.

Speaking on this year’s World Leprosy Day, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia, Dr Poonam Singh, called for renewed commitment and the need for countries to scale up efforts towards eradicating the disease.

Singh stressed that an inclusive approach was needed to end the scourge of leprosy that has continued to afflict thousands of people every year,  adding that  the majority of them are in the WHO South-East Asia region.

“Leprosy affected 212 000 more people globally in 2015. Of them 60 percent were in India. The other high-burden countries were Brazil and Indonesia. Of the new cases, 8.9 percent were children and 6.7 percent presented with visible deformities,” Singh stated.

Despite being eliminated globally as a public health problem in 2000, leprosy continues to mar the lives of individuals, and impacts families and communities. Though present numbers are a fraction of what was reported a decade ago, they are unacceptable, as an effective treatment for leprosy – multidrug therapy, or MDT – has been available since the 1980s and can fully cure leprosy.



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