Namibia committed to keeping leprosy in check: Shangula

WINDHOEK: Health and Social Services Minister Kalumbi Shangula said the Namibian government is committed to ensuring that all treatment success rates for leprosy remain high to prevent reinfection and community transmission.

Shangula in a speech to commemorate World Leprosy Day at Katima Mulilo on Monday said his ministry has developed tools to ensure that leprosy survivors are periodically re-assessed and that those diagnosed with the disease have been put on treatment.

In the speech read on his behalf by Zambezi governor Alufea Sampofu, Shangula noted that his ministry has produced a national guideline for the management of leprosy and that a budget has been allocated for training health workers.

The national guideline is also aligned with the latest World Health Organisation Guidelines for the Management of Leprosy.

‘During the current financial year, regions have been training their own health workers in the prevention and management of leprosy, which we are confident will enhance early detection and
management of leprosy. In fact, in one of the regions, leprosy was detected in young boys just before it caused disabilities and deformities,’ Shangula said.

This is the seventh year Namibia commemorates World Leprosy Day.

‘We have been vigilant in recognising the signs and symptoms of leprosy, in providing treatment to new cases, and in meeting the needs of those who developed disabilities due to the disease. I can also share with you that there has been early detection of leprosy going on in regions like Kavango East, Kavango West, Zambezi, Khomas, and Oshana regions,’ Shangula said.

Last year, 22 leprosy cases were recorded until September, of which seven are from the Zambezi Region, 11 from the Kavango Region, three from the Oshana Region, and one from the Omusati Region.

The senior medical officer at Katima Mulilo State Hospital, Dr Douglas Muswe, said there is a need to relook the programmes in place, as many cases of leprosy go unreported.

He said leprosy in Namibia is classified as endemic, mostl
y in the Zambezi and Kavango regions. ‘The numbers we are actually recording might be fewer than the numbers in the communities,’ Muswe said, adding that there is a need for community-based programmes to address leprosy.

Source: The Namibia Press Agency