DILI, 28 january 2022 (TATOLI) – The First Lady, Cidália Lopes Nobre Mouzinho Guterres calls on all entities to have a strong commitment to eliminating leprosy and combat leprosy-related discrimination, prejudice, and stigma to ensure the right of people with leprosy in the communities.
The First Lady made the comments in a statement released on january 28 to commemorate World Leprosy Day (WLD) in Timor-Leste.
World Leprosy Day (WLD) is celebrated on the last sunday of january. In 2022, World Leprosy Day is 30 january. 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.
Meanwhile, in Timor-Leste, the Ministry of Health (MoH), together with the World Health Organization (WHO), Leprosy Mission in Timor-Leste (LMTL), and relevant entities and communities are celebrating the international day in the Bobonaro municipality.
“WLD is an opportunity for all entities to wake up with a strong commitment to combat against leprosy in Timor-Leste. It’s also important to end the leprosy-related stigma and discrimination against people who are affected by leprosy. The theme for this year is United for Dignity,” Guterres said in the statement.
The United for Dignity campaign calls for unity in honoring the dignity of people who have experienced leprosy. The campaign honors the lived experiences of individuals who have experienced leprosy.
“As the First Lady and a mother, I am aware of the rising number of leprosy cases in Timor-Leste. I know that Timor-Leste continues to detect new cases of leprosy and I understand the difficult situation facing people with leprosy in the country,” she said.
Guterres said, therefore, combating leprosy in Timor-Leste requires a joint effort of all parties.
“I would like to deliver my message to all relevant parties to keep raising the awareness of the communities on combating leprosy: “The government and health workers must continue to provide holistic medical care to the leppers as well as the families members need to look after their loved ones who affected with leprosy,” she said
“To all my fellow Timorese with leprosy, you are not alone, there are always people with compassion to support and take care of you. Thus, you need to be open up and approach these kinds of people.”
Guterres called on people who have symptoms of leprosy to seek treatment at the early stage at the health care centers in the country.
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 registered more than 5.000 cases of leprosy in Timor-Leste, while Leprosy Mission Timor-Leste (LMTL) recorded around 3.000 cases, since 2004.
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.
Journalist: Filomeno Martins
Editor: Nelia B