DOH encourages leprosy patients to complete treatment

IBA, Zambales (PIA) — Department of Health (DOH) encourages patients with leprosy to complete their treatment.

Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease and locally as ketong, is caused by a slow-growing bacteria called Mycobacterium leprae that affects the skin, nerves, nasal mucosa and eyes.

DOH Central Luzon Center for Health Development Infectious Diseases Cluster Medical Technologist Catherine Toledo emphasized that leprosy is curable and can be prevented.

“Leprosy is curable through early detection, competent doctor’s advice, regular medication intake, and community support,” she said. 

There are two types of leprosy namely Paucibacillary when there are one or up to five skin blemishes, and Multibacillary when there are six or more spots on the skin.

Treatment of leprosy lasts from six months to 18 months depending on the type by taking a medicine called Multi-Drug Therapy (MDT), which is free and available in health centers.  

Toledo noted that completing the treatment will prevent deformity and disabilities to the patient.

“First dose of MDT kills 99.9 percent of the germs causing leprosy,” she furthered.

Leprosy can be directly transmitted via droplets from the nose and mouth during close and frequent contact with untreated cases.

DOH records show a decrease in cases being treated in Central Luzon in 2023 compared to previous years. 

“Decreased in the number may mean that leprosy cases are decreasing in our region, or it may also be because not all cases are recorded,” she explained. 

It may also be due to a lack of training of new doctors and nurses assigned to health centers and due to stigma and discrimination. 

As such, DOH continues to capacitate medical frontliners and conduct advocacy activities to raise awareness, reduce stigma and maintain support for people affected by the disease. 

Leprosy Control Week is observed every last week of February. (CLJD/RGP-PIA 3)

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