GINA, GUYANA, Thursday, March 16, 2017
The Ministry of Public Health will continue to intensify its public awareness and public education campaigns across the country to ensure that all persons living in Guyana garner a better understanding of Leprosy.
Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae, an acid-fast, rod-shaped bacillus which affects the skin and eyes, peripheral nerves and the mucosa of the upper respiratory tract.
The Ministry as part of its awareness campaign hosted the annual children’s Leprosy poster and essay competition, and today, it presented prizes to the winners.
Technical Advisor to the Minister within the Ministry of Public Health Dr. Samantha Kennedy, speaking at the prize giving exercise at the Palms, Brickdam commended the students who participated in the competition to provide their creative ideas in the drive towards raising awareness about Hansen’s disease commonly called Leprosy.
“Children, we acknowledge your efforts and celebrate your success, however while much progress has been made worldwide in the field of medicine to significantly address the prevalence of Hansen’s disease, there is much work that remains to be done in some countries including Guyana as we aim for total eradication,” Dr. Kennedy said.
Dr. Kennedy revealed that in the 1990s, the World Health Organisation (WHO) launched a campaign to eliminate leprosy; that goal was achieved in 2002 with the discovery of the multi-drug therapy. During a review of the situation in 2014, it was found that 122 countries were without high prevalence rates.
Country representative of Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) Dr. William Adu-Krow said the organisation renewed its commitment towards zero disability in children affected by Leprosy using advanced efforts and inclusive approaches.
Dr. Adu-Krow noted that, “the stigmatisation and discrimination of people affected by Leprosy and their families is recognised as unjustified and should be avoided or eliminated.” He said that although the observance of World Leprosy Day aims at raising awareness about the disease which was believed to be extinct, it also emphasises that Leprosy can be treated, cured and prevented.
It was revealed that the Ministry of Public Health’s Leprosy Unit Programme has diagnosed and recorded 26 new cases.
“In Guyana, we have made significant strides with our local control programme, moreover, through various public awareness and education programmes, the Ministry of Public Health continues to champion a determined effort to drive the awareness of Leprosy forward towards the WHO’s goal,” the technical advisor added.
The technical advisor pointed out that raising public awareness about the disease, as well as the available treatment, is an essential component in the fight against Leprosy since it is a contagious and chronic disease. Dr. Kennedy noted that early detection and treatment are key towards curing Leprosy.
Meanwhile, Acting Director of the Leprosy Control Programme, Dr. Nikita McKenzie said that the disease was eradicated for some time in Guyana however; the unit has noticed the increased rate especially in Regions Seven and Eight, areas that were not before detected with the disease.
The acting director highlighted that the unit recognises that majority of the cases of leprosy are detected during childhood and felt that it was wise to raise awareness amongst children both at the primary and secondary schools.
“Last year we focused on schools along East Coast Demerara and we are heartened by the tremendous response that we got from the students. For this year we are focusing on the schools on the East Bank Demerara and we got a resounding response from the students and teachers,” Dr. McKenzie added.
The acting director highlighted that the unit has viewed the high quality of performance of the posters, of which they will use excerpts to incorporate in the Ministry’s national leprosy poster.
The winners from the essay competition are: Zaleema Haniff of Covent Garden Secondary School, who copped the first place and received a tablet; second place was secured by Brianna Lim of Diamond Secondary School, who received a watch and third place went to Jewel Mc Curchin of Diamond Secondary School who received a scientific calculator and a geometry set.
The winners of the poster competition are: In the first place, Gabriel Persaud of Peter’s Hall Primary School who received DMX bicycle; second place Nicolette Bradford of Craig Primary School who received a scooter and third place Kurleigh Nurse of Covent Garden Primary School who received a school supplies hamper.
According to official reports from 138 countries from all WHO regions, the global registered prevalence of Leprosy at the end of 2015 was 176 cases equal to 0.18 cases per 10 000 people.
By: Neola Damon
Apr 28, 2017
Apr 28, 2017