Published On: February 4, 2023 09:30 AM NPT By: Kiran Man Bajracharya
KAPILVASTU, Feb 3: Despite the declaration that leprosy had been eradicated in Kapilvastu 12 years ago, the number of cases has been on the rise in the district. The rise in leprosy cases is attributed to ignorance and the porous border with India. The failure to reduce the number of patients has led to questions about the effectiveness of efforts to control the disease. The district health office reported a 1.8 percent increase in leprosy patients, which is higher than the goal of less than one patient per 10,000 populations. As many as 58 new cases were reported in the district by mid-January of the current fiscal year 2022/23 and 123 cases in the previous fiscal year 2021/22. The Tuberculosis Officer of the Health Office, Mahomed Irfan stated that 117 cases were reported in 2078/079. Though it was declared 12 years ago that TB had been eradicated in the district, the rising number of patients due to illiteracy and open border presents a challenge in maintaining this status.
Leprosy is considered to be under control if the number of patients is less than one per 10,000 populations in a district. However, this rate has nearly doubled in Kapilvastu. The increasing number of patients has raised concerns about the previous declaration that the disease had been eradicated. On January 19 in 2010, it was announced that leprosy was no longer a public health problem at the national level. However, the number of patients in the district has been rising for the past five years. Health workers attribute this to poverty and lack of education, leading to delayed treatment. Many people only seek medical attention when their condition becomes severe and leads to limb amputation. Leprosy is prevalent among the Tharu community, with more than 50 percent of the cases from this group.
"The problem is getting worse," said Anirudh Srivastwa, head of the health office. "Women are forced to work at home," said AHW Keshav Ghimire of Shihokhor Health Post of Yashodhara Rural Municipality, “The tendency of not completing the treatment until the disease is cured is increasing the problem. Even though contagious leprosy affects the skin, it does not affect the body immediately. That's why the patients are not serious about it in the beginning.” He said that while there is no problem in walking and working, there is a problem due to not paying attention to the patients’ health. The germs of leprosy gradually affect the skin, thicken the skin, and affect the nerves. Even when the hand touches the knee, it does not feel and weakens the muscles. After that, the number is increasing as patients come in contact with health institutions after they are physically ugly and have problems working.
Symptoms appear within two to five years of the disease’s onset. Kapilvastu is one of the 10 leprosy-affected districts in the country. Kapilvastu is also the second district in Lumbini Province where there are many leprosy patients. Anirudh Srivastava, Acting Head of the Health Office, said that due to the open border with India, there are problems and challenges in the prevention of leprosy in the Terai districts. He said that the number of patients is increasing due to the patients migrating from hill areas and patients returning after working in the Indian market.
Rifampicin, MB PB medicine should be taken regularly for six months and one year to cure the disease which is spread by mycobacteria. MB is given to severe cases and PB to normal patients. It does not itch and a red rash appears. Gradually the body's cells die, limbs are lost and the patient becomes disabled. If the disease is diagnosed and treated in time, the body can be prevented from being disfigured. The chance of transmitting this disease to others is very low.
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