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October 24, 2019

Hospital-cum-rehabilitation facility offers hope to leprosy patients

The Ministry of Health and Sports is planning to turn the Yenantha Leprosy Hospital in Madaya, Mandalay Region, into a hospital-cum-rehabilitation center for patients.
The move has brought fresh hope to leprosy patients, who often feel neglected and isolated from the rest of society.
The ministry has declared that it would provide funding and manpower to the hospital in the 2019-2020 fiscal year.
Union Minister for Health and Sports Dr. Myint Htwe said the ministry will fulfil the requirements of the hospital step by step, to ensure that it becomes a model one, like the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Yangon.
According to a survey in 2018, the leprosy rate in Myanmar was 0.39 per 1,000 people. Though the number of leprosy cases has declined nationwide, an estimated 2,000 cases continue to be reported every year.
Leprosy-related discrimination, stigma, and prejudice are the most powerful barriers to ending leprosy for good, given the fact that the disease is 100 per cent curable when detected early.
Though the number of leprosy cases has declined steadily worldwide, an estimated 200,000 cases continue to be reported every year.
Leprosy patients may suffer from physical deformities, but they can still receive an education and become valuable, productive citizens, who can support their family members and serve the country.
The most basic task in fighting leprosy is to seek out those who have contracted the disease and ensure they receive treatment so they can be free of the malady. Timely treatment can also help prevent patients from becoming disabled, and providing them support through rehabilitation and recovery is also important.
Although leprosy is often equated with serious deformities and disabilities, the percentage of patients that present with these symptoms is down to just 6 per cent, which shows the disease is being diagnosed earlier than ever.
Leprosy needn’t lead to disability and deformity, which fuel leprosy-related discrimination, stigma, and prejudice.
Once discrimination sets in, an opportunity for tackling the disease may get wasted, thereby leaving a negative impact on the patients, their family members, and the nation.
Helping leprosy patients form psycho-social support networks to reduce emotional and economic distress is a must. We must promote the active participation of persons affected by leprosy in society.
To combat the disease in Myanmar, efforts to eradicate discrimination against leprosy patients and their families must be given a top priority by promoting the right attitude among people towards patients.

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