Malawi making positive strides in eliminating leprosy

In 2021, health authorities in the fight against Tuberculosis and leprosy were faced with a rude awakening when they learnt of the resurfacing of leprosy in the country.


The shock came as several health facilities across the country started reporting several cases .

This is despite the fact that the disease was eliminated back in 1991 by the World Health Organization, subsequentlyย  eliminating the disease as a public health concern.

At the time, elimination was defined as reducing the global prevalence of the disease to less than 1 case per 10,000 population.

Ironically, in the same year 2000 the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that leprosy was eliminated globally.

However, it was noted last year that leprosy still remained a significant public health issue and Malawi was not been spared.

This according to health rights campaigning bodies like the Malawi Health Equity Network through its executive director George Jobe was because as a country we relaxed in our efforts to fight this disease and make that sure that it remains eliminated.

Jobe says the progress is positive.

Another health rights activist Maziko Matemba argues that the WHO was able to eliminate leprosy because it had leprosy control assistants who were active on the ground in the fight against the disease.

He also said such was the case due to lack of awareness and also lack of health personnel.

However, there seemed to be some light in the year 2022 following a reduction in the leprosy cases from 410 in the year 2021 to 235 cases in 2022 according to ย ย Dr James Mpunga program manager for national tuberculosis and leprosy elimination program.

According to Mpunga, 2022 was a success because the Ministry had put in place new measures in order to have a successful fight against leprosy such as conducting awareness campaigns as well as procurement of leprosy drugs.

He added that , the masses were adhering to the awareness campaigns messages to report to health authorities if they note any signs of leprosy which was not the case in 2021.

However, he remains hopeful that in the year 2023 government and health authorities will continue working towards making sure that the country has no cases of leprosy.

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