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Resource constraints affecting leprosy fight in Chiradzulu

Thoko Phiri “We are incapable to visit communities to carry out awareness campaigns and screenings”

By Lovemore Khomo

Chiradzulu District Hospital has expressed concern that resource constraints is affecting the progress of fighting leprosy as the district is failing to carryout activities for establishing and recording cases of the disease.

In an interview with journalists working under National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Elemination Program (NTLEP) Media Network, a Dermatologist at the hospital Thoko Phiri, noted that mobility is one of the challenges engulfing the hospital and prevent them from visiting different sites to make people aware and screen out leprosy which is an emerging health concern in Malawi.

“We are incapable to visit communities to carry out awareness campaigns and screenings for Leprosy because of lacking resources. For now, we only wait and rely on assistance from well-wishers who might come out in a while, so it is a problem.” said Phiri.

“We rely on patients who have voluntarily visited the hospital whenever felt to do so because of the changes they experience in their body. So, they come for screening to establish if they have Leprosy or not.”

The Dermatologist shared that from 2021 to date the district has registered 8 cases as compared to the period between 2015 to 2020 which had zero cases.

“Nowadays, patients with this condition are increasing as we have 8 patients including an 11-year-old boy, but others are 30 years and older. If we could have resources, then more cases would have been Identified and recorded.” Said Phiri

Despite challenges, Chiradzulu District Hospital has been collecting samples on suspected leprosy cases and releases results the same day depending on conditions and complexity of that case. Also, depending on availability of funds, health officials visit patient’s as well as raising awareness through posters and health talks about signs and symptoms of Leprosy.

According to National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Elimination Program (NTLEP), defines Leprosy as a chronic, curable infectious disease mainly causing skin lesions and nerve damage caused by infection with the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae. It affects the skin, eyes, nose and peripheral nerves.

Some signs and symptoms of Leprosy are skin patches that may be red or have a loss of pigmentation and others with diminished or absent sensations and numbness or tingling in hands, feet, arms and legs.

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