DILI, 28 january 2022 (TATOLI) – The National Hospital Guido Valadares (HNGV) registered more than 30 cases of leprosy every year in Timor-Leste, said Dermatologist Dulce Madalena Alberto.
Madalena revealed that in 2020, HNGV registered a total of 31 leprosy cases, made up of 15 men, 12 women, and three children, saying two patients were dropped out from the medical treatment: “Of the 31 patients, four had been successfully completed their medical at the HNGV.
In 2021, the hospital registered 33 cases of leprosy, including two children. The 33 cases were made up of 22 men and 11 women: “This data shows that men are more vulnerable to leprosy than women.
“Last year, we had 12 leprosy patients who were dropped out from the medical treatment as HNGV was running out of anti-leprosy medicines. And we only had a patient who completed his medical treatment and one death, she said.
Madalena provided that HNGV detected two to three cases every month, adding up to three or four people with leprosy are having routine treatment at the hospital in january 2022.
She said men are more likely to be infected with leprosy as they do a lot of movement in their daily activities.
Madalena said that the disease is diagnosed based on clinical presentation and the diagnosis is confirmed by skin or nerve biopsy and acid-fast staining.
“We often examine the symptoms like discolored patches of skin, usually flat, that may be numb and look faded (lighter than the skin around), growths (nodules) on the skin, thick, stiff, or dry skin, painless ulcers on the soles of feet, painless swelling or lumps on the face or earlobes, and Loss of eyebrows or eyelashes. After the examination and if the patients have these symptoms means that she or he might have leprosy.” Madalena told TATOLI at National Hospital Guido Valadares, in Dili.
Leprosy is classified into two categories, namely paucibacillary and multibacillary groups.
She said the paucibacillary level of leprosy requires six months of intensive medical treatment, while multibacillary takes 12 months.
“Scientific research, as well as empirical data, have clearly shown that an impairment detected and treated at an early stage has a much better prognosis; that is, early detection and early intervention will minimize and/or prevent the consequences of impairment, ultimately preventing the impairments,” she said.
Madalena added that HNGV required an adequate and equipped laboratory to detect leprosy properly: “Sometimes, our patient has the symptoms of leprosy, but our lab couldn’t detect it straightway and therefore we need a good lab to facilitate the work of the doctors.”
“Lack of supply of anti-leprosy medicine would have a negative effect on patients who are currently under treatment at this hospital,” she said.
Madalena reiterated that from february to june 2021, HNGV was run out of anti-leprosy medicines, leaving 12 leprosy patients dropped out of the treatment, saying it would lead the patients to experience leprosy reactions and impairments.
“It’s not a new disease which requires a new policy for the procurement of the medicines. So, Covid-19 isn’t a scapegoat for the lack of anti-leprosy medicines during the period,” she said.
In addition, Madalena stressed that numerous studies have suggested that leprosy may have an impact on fertility.
Sharma et al. (1981) found that 10% of women affected with leprosy had primary infertility.
“But, once the patients started the treatment, the transmission of the mycobacterium leprae is reduced and can be totally stopped,” she said
Journalist: Filomeno Martins
Editor: Rafy Belo