Health workers praised for their role in treating leprosy during a pandemic – Global issues

Yohei Sasakawa, WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination and President of the Nippon Foundation, thanked participants of the webinar ‘Rising awareness about leprosy, the role of health professionals at the grassroots level. ‘ organized by the Sasakawa Leprosy Initiative. He is joining other participants from Japan, India and Nepal in the “Don’t Forget Leprosy” campaign event.
  • by Joyce Chimbi (Nairobi, Kenya)
  • Joint press service

Sasakawa, WHO Goodwill Ambassador for leprosy eradication and President of Nippon Foundation.

He told the webinar that “a world without leprosy is a world” that patients and those cured of leprosy live without discrimination and those around them will not be misunderstood, Ignorance and fear can perpetuate discrimination”.

Sasakawa Leprosy Initiative is a strategic alliance between WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination, Nippon Foundation and Sasakawa Health Foundation to achieve a world free of leprosy and its related problems. The initiative spearheads a campaign, “Don’t Forget Leprosy,” to raise awareness of the condition in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The WHO Goodwill Ambassador envisions a post-COVID world where those affected by leprosy will be liberated from such stigma and discrimination in order to comply with human rights.

Sasakawa said that the world is now in danger of delaying leprosy elimination due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as the number of new reported cases has decreased by 37% and leprosy programs in many countries have been shut down. stagnate or shrink again.

Participants were introduced to the role of health professionals in combating leprosy, the recognition of this role, and the successes and challenges faced in tackling leprosy in the community. during the ongoing medical pandemic.

Their role is central to their vision of a leprosy-free world, Sasakawa says, as it helps reduce transmission and disability.

An estimated three to four million people live with some form of disability due to leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease.

“Don’t forget leprosy is a global campaign because our voices alone are not enough. Stopping leprosy needs (involvement of) all of us, from India and Nepal to all the other countries in the world, he said.

Dinesh Basnet, Central President of the International Association for Integration, Dignity and Economic Progress (IDEA) in Nepal, said he was pleased to see progress in recent years.

“Nepal’s efforts to track and eliminate leprosy go beyond that. Even in times of pandemic, detection and treatment interventions have not been disrupted, and this has been made possible thanks to the commitment of the government and the unremitting efforts of health professionals,” Bassnet said.

“Those affected by leprosy are not forgotten as communication continues through WhatsApp groups and this is very important during the lockdown.”

Dr Indra Napit, a senior orthopedic surgeon at Anandaban Hospital, Nepal, spoke about the innovative technology during testing of Autologous Blood products to promote ulcer healing in patients wind. He added that a new drug is being tested to manage responses to this form of treatment in this leprosy mission.

In a video message, Birodh Khatiwada, Nepal’s Minister of Health and Population, talks about Nepal’s unbroken program to tackle leprosy, including the continued supply of leprosy medicines despite epidemic.

He said Nepal has prepared a National Leprosy Roadmap, 2021-2030, a National Leprosy Strategy 2021-2025, in line with the Global Leprosy Strategy, Roadmap for Neglected Tropical Diseases and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Sasakawa emphasized that the ultimate goal of India and other affected countries worldwide is to have zero leprosy cases by 2030.

Despite the challenges in the fight to eliminate leprosy, a glimmer of hope still shines, with Anju Sharma sharing good practices to prevent detection in India amid the ongoing health pandemic .

Sharma is a recognized Social Health Activist and is seen as the driving force behind India’s public health system and an essential link between the community and the public health system.

“It is much more difficult to screen for leprosy during a pandemic. As COVID-19 cases increase, so does my responsibility as I have to strictly follow the COVID-19 protocols, and this takes a lot of time,” Sharma explained.

“Due to the pandemic, people are hesitant about screening. But I assure them that the procedures will be followed and remind them that failure to detect and treat leprosy can lead to disability.”

Dr Venkata Ranganadha Rao Pemmaraju, acting team leader, WHO Global Leprosy Programme, stressed that it is important to discuss the role of health workers, and that it is important to listen to those on the front lines will help move the pandemic elimination effort forward.

He said, WHO, subscribe to the Don’t Forget Leprosy campaign. He commended the ongoing efforts to keep counseling available to people affected by leprosy and those monitoring and managing leprosy cases across the Nepal-India border despite the challenges of COVID-19 protocols such as movement restrictions and lockdowns.

Similarly, Dr. Rabindra Baskota, Director of the Division of Leprosy Control and Disability Management at the Ministry of Health and Population of Nepal, confirmed that health workers have been constantly searching for new cases, raising the bar. Raise awareness about leprosy and treat patients despite ongoing challenges.

“However, there is a need to train public health workers to detect new cases and manage responses to leprosy treatment even if health workers are older and more experienced,” he said. more experienced retired”.

Dr Anil Kumar, Deputy Director General (Leprosy) of India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare who spoke on good practices in combating leprosy says that a leprosy-free India cannot still far.

Despite the dramatic drop in screening and detection of COVID-19 cases, he said key interventions are still in place and leprosy-related services continue at the grassroots level. department.

“Migrant workers are screened for leprosy upon returning to their home counties/districts, and patients being treated are monitored. Kumar says those who default to treatment are cross-informed based on the address in the treatment record.

“A WhatsApp group titled Leprosy Action Group has been created for cross-notification and the members include state leprosy employees and partners. The monitoring support and monitoring to the district/district level using virtual platforms continues. ”

Sasakawa Health Foundation Executive Director, Dr. Takahiro Nanri, moderated a panel discussion including a session to shed more light on the additional support needed to achieve the category milestones. except leprosy.

Sasakawa suggested that training of health workers include human rights, and the panel commended health workers for taking enthusiastic and proactive steps to eradicate the disease.

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© Inter Press Service (2022) – All rights reservedOrigin: Inter Press Service


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