There is an increase in reporting leprosy patients in Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara districts, Health Capsule Consultant and Community Physician of the Health Ministry's Anti-Leprosy Campaign Dr. Kapila Piyasena said.
He told the Daily Mirror that the leprosy patients are increasing due to the lack of concern on the decease, as it claimed to have been eliminated from the country.
However, leprosy is not eradicated from the country and it is completely a myth, he said.
Spreading of the disease among people is on the rise now, Dr. Piyasena said.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, they describe that recovering less than 10 patients in a population of 100,000, then the country had reached the elimination level of the disease, he said.
“Leprosy is a chronic infection caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium leprae. It can affect the skin and nerves mainly, and in rare instances, the internal organs too," he said.
As per the records, Dr. Piyasena said the number of cases received by the Gampaha clinic had reached twice in January when compared to the previous months.
"We reached the WHO benchmark level in 2003, but the disease was not bycompletely eradicated," the doctor said.
The disease was not eradicated, it was eliminated," he said.
"Due to the complacency that the disease has been eliminated, even the doctors did not pay much attention to the reported cases. They used to treat the patients for skin diseases," he said.
"The current number of leprosy cases have increased due to late diagnosis.
In 2019, elderly people with disabilities recovered due to late diagnosis," Dr. Piyasena said.
However, nearly 2,000 cases have been reported so far, he said.
Dr. Piyasena requested the people who develop skin patches that remain for weeks or months and do not show any symptoms or have reduced or if the sensation is absent in the skin area, it is advisable to visit the nearest skin clinic and get checked.
"You can also play your part in the fight against leprosy through spreading awareness about the disease and encouraging the society to seek treatment, these efforts will help eliminate the stigma associated with this disease," Dr. Piyasena added. (Chaturanga Samarawickrama)