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What is leprosy still doing in Nepal?
Since leprosy was declared ‘eliminated’ in Nepal a few years ago, training in diagnosis and treatment were considered less important, which left many patients undiagnosed. INF’s health camps offer great opportunities to detect new cases and to give advice for treatment of related health problems.
Detecting leprosy early can prevent physical disabilities and reduces the risk of spreading the virus further.
What is leprosy caused by?
Leprosy is caused by a bacillus, called Mycobacterium Leprae (left). It mainly affects the skin, the peripheral nerves, mucus membranes in the mouth and nose, and also the eyes. The first sign is usually a patch of discoloured skin. Leprosy is curable. But if it is left untreated it causes permanent damage to hands, feet and eyes. This can lead to paralysis, blindness, ulcers and even amputations.
The disease isn't highly contagious. Casual touch like shaking hands, or playing or working together in the same room, will not transmit leprosy. It is transmitted via droplets from the nose or mouth, during close and frequent contact with an untreated person.
Due to lack of information and false beliefs, people affected by leprosy can experience severe discrimination and prejudice. The consequences can be devastating. People are often shunned by their community or even their own family. Being diagnosed with leprosy could lead to a lifetime of abuse, isolation and shame.
People in Nepal are already working hard to raise awareness about the disease. They want to end stigma and discrimination so that people can feel safe to seek help without the fear. Doctors and health care professionals are committed to increasing their skills. They want to detect new cases early and cure patients before damaged nerve cells result in life-long disabilities.