2nd Informal Global Health Dinner: Leprosy
Posted by chads on October 25, 2007
The Utah Valley Global Health Group hosted their second informal pot-luck dinner on October 19. The theme was leprosy. A quick summary of the “take-home points” from my global-burden talk is below. Sylvia Finlayson then shared her experienced with Rising Star Outreach. About 15 people came, and delicious food ranging from spring rolls to garbanzo beans was served.
1. LEPROSY IS A CHRONIC, DEBILITATING DISEASE.
- Leprosy is a chronic disease caused by bacterium, Mycobacterium leprae;
- It multiplies very slowly; symptoms can take as long as 20 years to appear.
- Leprosy is not highly infectious. It is transmitted via droplets, from the nose and mouth, during close and frequent contacts with untreated cases.
2. LEPROSY MAINLY AFFECTS THE SKIN AND NERVES.
- Leprosy causes rashes, numbness, and enlarged tender nerves.
- It mostly causes morbidity (suffering, disability), not mortality (death).
3. LEPROSY IS CURABLE, BUT REQUIRES 6 MONTHS TO ONE YEAR OF TREATMENT WITH 3 DIFFERENT MEDICATIONS.
- Leprosy is a curable disease and treatment provided in the early stages averts disability;
- With minimal training, leprosy can be easily diagnosed on clinical signs alone;
- The WHO recommended multidrug therapy (MDT) in 1981. MDT consists of three drugs: dapsone, rifampicin and clofazimine. This drug combination kills the pathogen and cures the patient if taken for the course of 6mo-1 year.
- Since 1995, WHO provides free MDT for all patients in the world.
4. LEPROSY ELIMINATION HAS BEEN A PUBLIC HEALTH SUCCESS, THOUGH INTENSIVE EFFORTS ARE STILL NEEDED IN 5 COUNTRIES.
- In 1991 World Health Assembly passed a resolution to eliminate leprosy as a public health problem by the year 2000. The target was achieved on time.
- A dramatic decrease in the global disease burden: from 5.2 million in 1985 to 805 000 in 1995 to 753 000 at the end of 1999 to 286 000 cases at the end of 2004.
- Intensive efforts are still needed to reach the leprosy elimination target in five countries: Brazil, India, Madagascar, Mozambique, and Nepal.
- Ensuring accessible and uninterrupted MDT services available to all patients through flexible and patient-friendly drug delivery systems will lead to elimination.
Modified from the WHO Leprosy Fact Sheet, available at http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs101/en/