LMTL: “Education and advocacy are needed to combat Leprosy-related discrimination and stigma”

LMTL: “Education and advocacy are needed to combat Leprosy-related discrimination and stigma”

Stigma ilustration

DILI, 27 january 2022 (TATOLI) – The Director of the Non-Governmental Organization of Leprosy Mission Timor-Leste (LMTL), Afliana Lisnahan dos Reis said education and advocacy are important to eliminate stigma and discrimination against lepers in Timor-Leste.

“I am not generalizing the things, but in Timor-Leste, there are stigma and discrimination against lepers by their own families, neighbors, and colleagues, which caused them uncomfortable and ashamed to live in the community. Therefore, better education and advocacy are crucial to prevent such action in the community,” said Reis, in her office in Dili, on wednesday.

She stressed that involving lepers in all activities is needed to combat stigma and discrimination against people with leprosy.

“We need to involve all lepers in all our daily activities, such as having lunch and dinner together so that these people do not feel discriminated against and abandoned in the communities,” she stressed.

Domingos Ataíde, a leper, said that he contracted the disease in 2002: “I would like to thank the Government for its Leprosy Program, particularly the contact tracing and the screening to detect the new cases in the country. I managed to obtain medical treatment.”

“I have leprosy and my whole feet are sore. I have already had medical treatment at the clinics. But I never recovered. So, two years ago, the healthcare professionals brought me here at LMTL to have proper medical treatment,” he said.

Ataíde said that he never felt discriminated against by his own family, saying his family will continue to take care of him.

Earlier this week, the Chief of the Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) Program of the Ministry of Health, Jose Liu Fernandes revealed that since 2000, MoH had registered more than 5.000 cases of leprosy in Timor-Leste.

Last year, MoH recorded 150 cases of leprosy in eight municipalities and the Special Administrative Region of Oé-Cusse Ambeno (RAEOA.

Of the 150 cases, 30 were detected in Baucau, 28 in Dili, 19 in Covalima, 18 in Ainaro, 17 in Manatuto, 15 in RAEOA, seven in Liquiçá, two in Lautém and one in Viqueque municipality.

Fernandes reiterated MoH’s committeemen to eliminate leprosy in the country by 2030.

He said the leprosy awareness campaign would be broadcasted on TV and Radio on January 28, to raise the awareness of the communities on combating leprosy in Timor-Leste.

Related news:Leprosy Mission Timor-Leste commits to eliminate leprosy in TL by 2035

Journalist: Filomeno Martins

Editor: Rafy Belo


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