DILI, 27 january 2022 (TATOLI) – The World Health Organization (WHO) Representative to Timor-Leste, Arvind Mathur urged persons with leprosy in Timor-Leste to be a role models for others to seek medical treatment at the hospitals.
Mathur called on people who are affected by leprosy to be confident in seeking treatment at the healthcare centers, saying leprosy is a curable disease.
“My very message to the people who are affected with leprosy is very straight and clear is that be confident that you can be treated, be assured that high-quality treatment medicines are available in Timor-Leste,” Mathur made the comments at his office, in Dili, on wednesday.
He reiterated: “Be confident that having had encountered leprosy is like any other infectious disease with the proper treatment and completing the treatment for the duration that it is prescribed, you would be as normal as I am.”
In his messages, Mathur encouraged people with leprosy to have self-esteem and confidence to seek treatment at the nearest health facilities.
“My other message to them is that do not get stigmatized by other people to what they are saying, have self-esteem, be assured, be confident, come to health centers, be a role model to somebody else for saying that I know, I had leprosy, and I went and I took treatment, I am on treatment, and anybody who has similar presentation should not hesitate to come to health workers and health centers to take the treatment,” said Mathur.
He emphasized that the role of people with leprosy is equally important as much as the role of the policymakers, the program people, the development partners, the donors, and the technical agencies like WHO to work with the Ministry of Health.
In 2018, WHO reviewed available evidence on key issues related to the elimination of leprosy and developed ‘WHO guidelines for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of leprosy 2018’, recommending a three-drug regimen (rifampicin, dapsone, and clofazimine) to both paucibacillary and multibacillary types of leprosy.
The guidelines also introduced the prevention of leprosy through a single dose of rifampicin for eligible familiar and social contacts.
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.
Fernandes reiterated MoH’s commitment 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.
Journalist: Filomeno Martins
Editor: Nelia B