DILI, 04 april 2023 (TATOLI) – The World Health Organization (WHO), together with the Ministry of Health (MoH) launched the National Strategic Plan (NSP) for Leprosy to achieve zero leprosy transmission in the country.
WHO’s Global Leprosy Strategy 2021–2030 “Towards zero leprosy” was developed with the aim to contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
So, Timor-Leste’s National Strategic Plan (NSP) for Leprosy will be implemented in accordance with the four strategic pillars of the WHO’s Global Leprosy Strategy 2021–2030: (i) implement integrated, country-owned zero leprosy roadmaps in all endemic countries; (ii) scale-up of prevention alongside integrated active case detection; (iii) and (iv) combat stigma and ensure human rights are respected. Interruption of transmission and elimination of the disease is at the core of the Strategy.
Mathur said that leprosy was declared to no longer be a public health problem in Timor-Leste at the National level, which means that the number of cases has gone down: “But they have not yet gone down to zero.”
“So, what we are looking at now is because of the various reasons, including Covid-19, that we probably have missed cases of leprosy. So, the NSP for leprosy which is launched today is an effort towards zero leprosies in Timor-Leste,” Mathur told reporters at the World Health Day celebration, in Dili.
He said there are a few municipalities that have more cases: “We will be working to detect leprosy cases for wide complete treatment and make sure that there is no stigma. Leprosy is a 100% treatable and curable disease.”
Dili, Baucau, and Oe-Cusse are on the list of highly endemic municipalities, meaning that leprosy cases are found more in these municipalities than elsewhere in Timor-Leste.
“So the effort today to launch the NSP is to see actions regarding zero leprosies being put in place in Timor-Leste,” Mathur stressed.
In 2022, the National Hospital Guido Valadares (HNGV) reported that each year it registered more than 30 cases of leprosy. In 2020, HNGV recorded 31 cases, and the number rose to 33 cases in 2021.
According to The Leprosy Mission Timor-Leste (TLM-TL), the country reached leprosy elimination (less than one case per 10,000 population) in 2011, however, over the past few years the new cases have been increasing.
Journalist: Filomeno Martins
Editor: Nelia Borges