SURKHET, Jan 3: Cases of leprosy are on the rise in Karnali Province despite numerous campaigns to eradicate leprosy since a long time.
Among the 10 districts of the province, Jajarkot has the highest rate of leprosy occurrence per 10,000 people. The Surkhet-based Provincial Health Directorate informed that the number of infected people in Jajarkot exceed the limit considered acceptable to declare the district free from leprosy.
The government had declared Nepal as leprosy-free zone a decade ago on January 19, 2007. The status of leprosy eradication is gained if less than one person in every 10,000 does not have leprosy.
Padam KC of the directorate revealed that 116 people suffering from leprosy in Karnali are currently undergoing treatment. Among them, 103 people were diagnosed with leprosy in the last fiscal year while nine more infected were discovered in the ongoing fiscal year.
Out of the 116 infected who are undergoing treatment, 107 have communicable leprosy while the remaining nine have non-transferrable infection.
“We do not have the exact details from every district. But districts including Jajarkot, Salyan and Rukum are in high risk,” added KC.
As per the data maintained by the directorate, 26 people in Surkhet, 25 in Salyan, 20 in Jajarkot, 19 in Rukum, 10 in Dailekh and nine in Kalikot suffer from leprosy. Likewise, three each lepers were discovered in Jumla and Mugu while one infected person has been found in Humla. Dolpa is the only district in the province with no recorded case of leprosy.
The government has set an ambitious plan to fully eradicate leprosy from Nepal by 2020. Given the situation in Karnali Province, many doubt that the government will succeed in fulfilling its objective.
“It is possible that we will find more people infected with leprosy if we visit every household looking for it,” said the health directorate's official KC. “This data represents only those who are seeking treatment. There could be many more people hiding the infection.”
According to Shining Hospital in Surkhet, more than 3,000 cases of leprosy are detected every year in Nepal. Mangal Chaudhary of the hospital management informed that nine new patients of leprosy visited the hospital since the beginning of the current fiscal year.