World Leprosy Day: Persons with leprosy don’t deserve stigmatization, says WHO

World Leprosy Day: Persons with leprosy don’t deserve stigmatization, says WHO

WHO Representative to Timor-Leste, Arvind Mathur. Image/WHO

DILI, 27 january 2022 (TATOLI) – WHO Representative to Timor-Leste, Arvind Mathur considered World Leprosy Day (WLD) as a day to honor the dignity of individuals who have experienced leprosy, saying persons with leprosy don’t deserve stigmatization.

“The theme for the World Leprosy Day 2022 is “United for Dignity”. Every year, we have a theme, and that’s why this year, it’s the “United for Dignity” and the reason why it is important is to honor the experiences of individuals who have experienced leprosy,” Mathur told TATOLI at his office, in Dili, on Wednesday.

The Ministry of Health (MoH), together with the humanitarian partners, NGOs, Civil Societies, donors, and relevant entities would commemorate World Leprosy Day, to take place in Bobonaro municipality on january 28.

Mathur said celebrating the WLD is important to recognize the suffering of many people with leprosy, but also wants to utilize the opportunity to advocate for greater attention to leprosy.

“It is a day we want the stakeholders to understand that leprosy is treatable, it’s preventable, it’s curable, and it doesn’t deserve to be stigmatized,” he stressed.

This international day is an opportunity to celebrate people who have experienced leprosy, raise awareness of the disease, and call for an end to leprosy-related stigma and discrimination: “First, we want to share their empowering stories, second, we also want to promote their right to a dignified life free from the disease-related stigma,” said Mathur.

“You can imagine if somebody is stigmatized as having leprosy and is not considered to be touchable for example, because of the communicable disease. As I said, it’s curable, treatable and it is a preventable disease. It can be early detected, and it can be easily managed with the medicines which are available in Timor-Leste. These are very effective medicines.”

Mathur added every year, WHO partners with the Ministry of Health to support and fund the observation of the celebration of the WLD: “2022 World Leprosy Day is being observed in Bobonaro and we will be commemorating it together with partners, NGOs, development partners, civil society, as well as the people of Timor-Leste, including people who have been affected with leprosy, but also the general population of Bobonaro municipality.”

Mathur emphasized that the idea of celebrating and commemorating the WLD outside DiLi is to spread the messages that prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation will be done across Timor-Leste.

“This is how WHO is using the opportunity of WLD for both high-level advocacies, but also supporting the actual commemoration and observation of the WLD,” he said.

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

Journalist: Filomeno Martins
Editor: Rafy Belo


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