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Leprosy not a curse for life:Haufiku

ONGWEDIVA, 16 FEB (NAMPA) – Leprosy continues to carry a great stigma in many parts of the world, where people with leprosy-caused disabilities suffer terrible discrimination, Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Bernard Haufiku has said.
Haufiku said this in a statement delivered on his behalf during a belated commemoration of the 2017 World Leprosy Day in Ongwediva in the Oshana Region on Thursday.
He said people with leprosy-caused disabilities or deformities are regarded as cursed, and are in some instances forbidden from collecting water from the common water point.
Haufiku noted that nearly 600 people are diagnosed with leprosy every day worldwide.
The minister pointed out that last year up to November, Namibia registered 22 leprosy cases, and seven cases are from the Oshana Region.
“In 2014 alone worldwide, 213 899 people were diagnosed and it is estimated that millions more go undiagnosed; this is no different to Namibia,” Haufiku stated.
He believes people affected with leprosy and who have been given treatment right away, will have less chances in developing deformities.
Leprosy survivors Hilde Nakwafila from Ongwediva and Leonard Kamati from Ondangwa Rural Constituency gave testimonies that leprosy can be successfully treated, cured and prevented from causing disabilities or deformities once it is diagnosed in time.
Skin patches; spotting on arms, legs and hands; lack of eyesight; and visible deformity of hands, feet and face are some of the symptoms of leprosy.
Namibia reactivated its Leprosy Programme in 2008 and set strategies on how to fight the disease, while at the same time providing leprosy treatment for free.
Leprosy Mission International has been providing technical support to train Namibian health workers in the early detection and management of leprosy.
World Leprosy Day was this year commemorated in Namibia for the fifth year. It aims to raise awareness of the disease.
Leprosy Day is marked on the last Sunday of January worldwide.
The day was chosen in 1953 to coincide with the anniversary of Mahatma Ghandi’s death on 30 January 1948.
Ghandi was a leader of the Indian independence movement in the British-ruled India before he was assassinated.
The theme of this year’s commemoration is ‘I am loved, I have hope but still need your help’.

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