31 January 2021 By Chris Nyamtu
Health workers in Nasarawa State have expressed worry over imminent upsurge of leprosy in the state due to non – availability of treatment, drugs and inadequate care for people inflicted with the disease.
Leprosy, which is one of the oldest diseases in the world, is a chronic bacteria infectious disease which affects mainly the skin, the nerves , the respiratory tract and the eyes.
In Nasarawa State, there is only one Leprosy Referral Centre in Alushi village , Nasarawa Eggon Local Government Area of the state which was established in 1948 to give care and treatment to people affected by leprosy.
When Radio Nigeria visited the Leprosy Colony at the ERCC Medical Centre in Alushi village, the leprosy patient wards were unusually deserted, a development which ordinarily would have been a good news of eradication of the disease.
But on the contrary, the acting Medical Director of the centre, Mr Dauda Kaze said the hospital had been recording new cases of leprosy on daily basis but they could not admit them to access care or treatment following non – supply of drugs by international partners and donors since June 2020.
He stated that over the years, cases of leprosy had dropped but in 2019, 60 new cases were recorded while in 2020, the hospital recorded about 70 new cases calling for urgent action to check explosion of the disease.
A Supervisor in charge of leprosy unit in the hospital, Mr. Musa Wuyah explained that between 1st and 15th of January 2021, over 40 patients with new cases of leprosy were recorded but were asked to go back home for treatment & care pending the availability of drugs in the hospital.
Daughter to one of the patient’s, Esther John who said they decided to remain in the facility for fear of stigmatization pointed out that her mother had been complaining of severe pains in her joints, legs, limps, poor vision and she could not sit close to fire.
She appealed to the state to intervene in ensuring that they have access to drugs , treatment and care.
Nasarawa State Coordinator, Leprosy, Tuberculosis and Chronic Ulcers , Dr Danladi Aboki noted that leprosy could affect both the young and old and can be treated and cured if detected early.
Director, Public Health, Nasarawa State, Dr Ibrahim Alhasan affirmed the state government’s commitment towards providing care and treatment for leprosy patients in the state.