The Coordinator of the FCT Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme, Dr Saddiq Abdurrahman, has advocated equal treatment for people suffering from leprosy.
Abdurrahman told journalists in Abuja that people affected by leprosy had the same rights as other patients and should be accorded equal treatment.
He said that leprosy globally had reached its elimination target, while the cases in Nigeria had declined significantly, with few recorded cases in some states.
According to him, Leprosy is one of the neglected tropical diseases and this gives wrong impression that the disease is no longer of public health importance.
“Leprosy is a chronic disease caused by a germ known as mycobacterium Leprae, transmitted via nasal droplets.
“Early sign is lighter skin patch with loss of sensation,’’ he said.
He, however, said that it was curable as treatment was available using Multi Drug Therapy (MDT), provided free in all health facilities in the FCT.
Abdurrahman explained that preventive measures include health education, awareness creation, training and retraining of health care givers and conducting outreach activities.
“FCT Administration, in its quest to ensure all persons affected by leprosy are well looked after, provided about six hectares of land at Yangoji Alheri Village in Kwali Area Council.
“Basic infrastructure such as houses for each family, clinics staffed with doctors and nurses, schools, motorised borehole, market stalls and power supply with a step down are provided,” he said.
The doctor said some socio-economic rehabilitation activities such as provision of farm lands, establishment of microfinance corporations registered with microfinance banks had also been put in place.
He said the FCTA also provided physical rehabilitation activities for the leprosy patients to take care of their limb ulcers by themselves.
“The FCTA Health and Human Services Secretariat (HSS) had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Leprosy Mission of Nigeria,” he said.
According to him, the World Leprosy Day, which is usually held on every last Sunday of January, has its theme as “ Equal Rights and Justice for Persons Affected by Leprosy and Their Family Members”.
The coordinator explained that the purpose of the day was to create awareness within the community and the general public on the causes, early sign, mode of transmission and prevention of leprosy.
The World Leprosy Day is set aside by WHO to commemorate awareness creation on the leprosy disease.