Ghana has attained the elimination target for leprosy set by the World Health Assembly.
The current prevalence rate of the disease is 0.39 per 10,000 of the total population.
The elimination strategy involves early detection and treatment with the Multi-drug Therapy,which has proved highly effective and prevents disabilities.
The National Leprosy Programme Manager, Dr Ekow Amankrah Otabir,said this at this year's launch of the World Leprosy Day at Apam in the Central Region.It was on the theme, “Leprosy can be cured, seek early treatment for all skin diseases. ”The World Health Assembly in 2000 defined elimination as decreasing the disease burden to one case or less per 10,000 of the population.
Dr Otabir said the total registered number of lepers as of December 31,2004 was 737. He said all 10 regions had attained the target of one or less per 10,000. He described the achievement as significant but warned against complacency.
Dr Otabir noted that 817 new cases were registered as of December 31 2004,which meant that there were cases yet to be identified. He attributed this to poor awareness, inadequate access to diagnosis and treatment and delay in seeking treatment.
He noted that the consequences of this delay could be devastating to individuals and their families as the disease could lead to progressive and irreversible deformities often resulting in social exclusion.
He said the elimination of leprosy was no longer a complex medical problem because it could be easily diagnosed and treated.
He said the leprosy programme was moving from hospitals and laboratories to deliver service to patients in communities.Dr Otabir said there was hope for cure of the disease if it was detected early. He called on community participation in getting people to seek early treatment for all skin disease.
He commended workers and the Italian Anti-Leprosy Organisation for supporting the leprosy control programme.
In an address,the acting Central Regional Minister, Mr Isaac Edumadze,said the government would continue to make the treatment of leprosy free and motivate health workers to offer the best care to lepers.
The Central Regional Director 0f Health Services,Dr Aaron Offei,called for the removal of stigma,both social and cultural. He advised society to ensure that all obstacles to seeking health care were removed.