Feb 06, Colombo: Last year, 1,683 leprosy patients had been reported in Sri Lanka and 41 percent of them were reported from the Western Province, said Dr. Champa J Aluthweera Director, Leprosy control program says.
Addressing a health seminar held at Health Promotion Bureau in Colombo yesterday, Dr. Aluthweera said although Leprosy patients are reported in all districts of Sri Lanka, the Colombo District is showing a rapid increase.
According to Dr. Aluthweera, during the past 10 years 2000 patients had been reported annually. In 2018 new patients had been identified from all districts in the country. The number of patients detected from the Western Province was 691. In 2017 also, the highest number of leprosy patients, 306 had been reported from the Colombo district.
Also the percentage of patients who seek medical treatment six months after the appearance of symptoms has gone up to 30 percent.
This is due to the lack of clean environment in the Colombo district and increase in the number of family members living in one house.
A number of measures is being taken to control this situation, Dr. Aluthweera said adding that especially among them are conduct of skin disease clinics and mobile clinics all over the island.
A dermatology specialist, Dr. Supun Wijesinghe said the dermatology specialists in the country with the assistance of the World Health Organization (WHO) have taken measures to eliminate leprosy. He said it is important to seek treatment as soon as symptoms appear.
The government aims to eradicate leprosy from Sri Lanka by 2020 achieving a disease prevalence rate of less than 1 case per 10,000 people, Dr. Aluthweera said.
Sri Lanka officially eliminated leprosy in 1995, reducing the rate to one in 10,000 people. However there are still about 2,000 new leprosy cases a year, with nearly half found in the western part of the country.
According to WHO, Leprosy can be cured with multidrug therapy (MDT). However, timely detection and early treatment is the best way to prevent disabilities and deformities due to the disease.