Health Officials Call For Renewed Leprosy Awareness Campaigns

2294 Views Luweero, Uganda

In short
Ronald Mubiru, the Luweero District Focal Person for Tuberculosis and Leprosy, says there are many new cases in the community that are not reported. Mubiru explains that many health workers cant diagnose the disease and end up treating it as mere skin disease, which exposes patients to more risk.

Health officials and patients in Luweero have called for renewed awareness campaigns and efforts to contain the surge in leprosy cases in the country. The 2015/16 Annual Health Sector Performance Report shows that 266 new leprosy cases were detected.

 
 
31% of the patients had disabilities against 5% target. The report also shows that 6 percent of the cases were less than 15 years of age. The proportion of new cases with visible disability increased from 20.5 percent six years ago to 31 percent today.
 
 
The new cases are reported from 13 out of 112 districts in the country including Luweero, Nakaseke, Kampala, Oyam, Gulu, Pader, Yumbe, Arua, Koboko Lira, Mayuge, Luuka, Iganga, Wakiso and Mubende among others.
 
 
Luweero District Health Officials say at least 30 people have been diagnosed with leprosy, an airborne disease in the past three years. Seven people are still on twelve months treatment (single dose multidrug therapy) while others have recovered but are still being monitoring.
 
 
Ronald Mubiru, the Luweero District Focal Person for Tuberculosis and Leprosy, says there are many new cases in the community that are not reported. Mubiru explains that many health workers can't diagnose the disease and end up treating it as mere skin disease, which exposes patients to more risk.
 
 
He explains that by the time the patients reach to get the attention of knowledgeable health workers, the affected parts are already deformed and can't be healed. Mubiru adds that the World Health Organization reports that one person out of 1000 people has leprosy in Uganda but a mass screening conducted in Luweero district last year detected two cases in 400 people who turned up for the exercise.




Both health officials and patients have asked the National TB and Leprosy Program (NTLP) to facilitate awareness campaigns among health workers and community members. Bernadette Nakiyimba, the in charge of Kikyusa Health Center 111 explains that they want to move to villages especially where the cases were reported to sensitise the community against stigmatizing patients and mobilize them for screening but lack resources. 


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Leprosy treatment in the district is only available at Luweero Health Center IV and Kikyusa Health Center 111 on specific days. David Byekwaso a resident of Kyampogola-Lutoma village in Kikyusa Sub County is suffering from disabilities  resulting from delayed medical treatment.
 
 
He is currently unable to work because of the disability and condemns people who stigmatize leprosy victims.

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Rebecca Nampa, another leprosy victim at Kyampogola-Lutoma village survived the disability after the disease was detected at early stage and was enrolled on treatment. Nampa and Byekwaso also want the government to carryout sensitization in villages to enable residents to known how leprosy spreads and is treated.
 

The National TB and Leprosy Program (NTLP), has promised to sustain partnerships as well as urgently build the capacity of clinicians to detect and diagnose leprosy early so as to minimize disability and stop transmission.
 

The Annual Health Sector Performance Report for 2015/16 recommended that leprosy be included among neglected tropical diseases so that it benefits from the support for neglected tropical diseases in the country. The report faulted Uganda for not prioritizing leprosy among neglected tropical diseases.

 

About the author

Brian Luwaga
Since Brian Luwaga joined Uganda Radio Network in 2011, he is still amazed how, "URN is a place that gives journalists a chance to enhance their skills . It gives a journalist an opportunity to adopt and master various aspects of journalism that include radio broadcast, social media, photography and television production."

A practicing journalist since 2009, first with Star FM, Luwaga has always been keen to write about the concerns of the "common person." Based for much of his career in Luweero, Luwaga takes it as a compliment if politicians complain that his reporting is too harsh.

In his journalism, Luwaga likes to merge the past with the present. He believes you cannot understand what is happening now, if you do not have a grounding in the past. Brian Luwaga is the Luweero URN bureau chief. Nakasongola, Nakaseke, Mityana, Mubende and Wakiso districts fall under his docket.

Luwaga is interested in humanitarian work and is a keen Rotarian.