JHAPA, Nov 12: Despite heavy investment, relentless efforts to control leprosy have failed to pay off in Jhapa. Leprosy is on the rise in the district with poor results from leprosy control campaigns.
Such campaigns are currently running in several districts of Jhapa although they have had no significant results. The government and the concerned authorities have not investigated why such campaigns are yielding poor results. The government has been running leprosy control program in Jhapa, Morang, and Parsa districts.
According to the District Public Health Office (DPHO), Jhapa, as many as to 12,374 people in the district took medication for leprosy in the fiscal year 2014/15. However, not all of them were infected by leprosy. Those who live in highly risky areas were also administered the medicines as a precautionary measure, the office said.
"Even those who spend time with leprosy victims for over 20 hours a week also have to take medicine for leprosy. As leprosy is an airborne disease, it can get transferred to others when the infected people sneeze and cough," said Pramod Dahal, chief of Leprosy Control Campaign at the DPHO.
Despite providing medicines to all those living in risky areas, additional 100 leprosy patients have been discovered this year, according to the DPHO. "This is a serious matter. Even though we are not supposed to say that our campaigns have been effective, we are forced to admit it. Otherwise, we should not be getting this high number of patients," said a worker at the DPHO, speaking under the condition of anonymity.
Various donor agencies have been aiding the government in their efforts to curb leprosy.
The government's campaign to fight against leprosy started in 2015. Prior to it, only donor agencies were campaigning against leprosy.
Many areas of Birtamod, including Anarmani, Mechinagar, Damak and other cities have high number of leprosy patients, according to Dahal. He also admitted that the number of leprosy patients are on the rise in the district despite efforts from all corners.
"One of the main reasons for failing to control the spread of leprosy is due to lack of awareness. Those who are infected with leprosy hide the fact and deny being infected, causing us problems. They should know that leprosy can be cured if they take medicines regularly," said Dahal.
Symptoms for leprosy include faded or discolored skin, numbness affecting areas of the skin, weakness of muscles or paralysis among others. The DPHO visits homes of leprosy victims to provide them medicines.