Lepers and leprosy are two words which harp back to Biblical times. Even today, in many countries, lepers are herded into colonies where they are kept away from the public.
The UNO intends to eliminate the negative stigma attached to leprosy by the public at large and to integrate people affected by this disease into their communities. The plan is to eliminate leprosy as a public health problem by the year 2995, the World Health Organisation working in tandem with the Global Alliance to Eliminate Leprosy.
By the beginning of 2002, leprosy had been contained to 106 countries, where there were 635,000 reported patients suffering from the disease. In the previous year, 760,000 new cases had been reported.
90% of cases of the disease are in India, Nepal, Myanmar, Madagascar, Angola and Brazil although some European countries, such as Portugal, have cases. The main difficulty is the diagnosis and treatment of leprosy through the public health services, often with depleted resources in the poorer countries.
Leprosy, also called Hansen’s Disease (after its cause had been discovered by G.A. Hansen in 1973) is a disease caused by a bacillus (bacteria) called Myobacterium Leprae, which attacks the skin, peripheral nerves, mucosa of the nose and the eyes. Wholly misunderstood, it has caused panic throughout the history of mankind and has led to the social exclusion of millions of people.
Leprosy can be treated easily with Dapsone, although a resistant form of the bacillus has been reported. These cases are treated with ofloxacin-a fluoroquinolone, minocycline-a tetracycline or clarithromycin-a macrolide.
Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey PRAVDA.Ru
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