Mrs Esther Kwakye, a nurse at the Ga South Municipal Hospital, McCarthy Hill, has urged Ghanaians to stop the stigmatisation and discriminating against lepers.

In an interview with Ghana News Agency, on Tuesday, Mrs Kwakye condemned the neglect and mistreatment of some lepers by their family relations.

She explained that some traditional societies had entrenched superstitions and beliefs, which perceived leprosy as a curse; and not as an ailment.

“We treat people with tuberculosis as being normal; but not same with people with leprosy, forgetting that both diseases are caused by the same bacteria species,” Mrs Kwakye said.

She said due to the neglect of lepers by their family members, the Leprosarium units had taken such lepers in to cater for them.

Mrs Kwakye said “the Leprosarium Unit in Accra currently cares for 30 lepers, the Ho Unit cares for 90 lepers, the Kokofu Unit cares for 75 lepers, the Ankaful Unit cares for 65 lepers, and the Kwankyina Unit cares for 95 lepers”.

She, therefore, called for a National crusade to stop discrimination and stigmatisation of lepers.

According to the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease , is an infection caused by slow-growing bacteria called Mycobacterium leprae.

It can affect the nerves, skin, eyes, and lining of the nose (nasal mucosa). With early diagnosis and treatment, the disease can be cured and people with Leprosy can continue to work and lead an active life during and after treatment.

Leprosy was once feared as a highly contagious and devastating disease, but now we know it doesn’t spread easily and treatment is very effective. However, if left untreated, the nerve damage can result in crippling of hands and feet, paralysis, and blindness.

According to the CDC, it is not known exactly how the disease spreads between people. Scientists currently think it may happen when a person with Hansen’s disease coughs or sneezes, and a healthy person breathes in the droplets containing the bacteria.

However, Prolonged, close contact with someone with untreated leprosy over many months is needed to catch the disease.

The disease is also not passed on from a mother to her unborn baby during pregnancy and it is also not spread through sexual contact.

Due to the slow-growing nature of the bacteria and the long time it takes to develop signs of the disease, it is often very difficult to find the source of infection.

Leprosy is treated with a combination of antibiotics. Typically, two or three antibiotics are used at the same time.

Treatment usually lasts between one to two years, the CDC says and the illness can be cured if treatment is completed as prescribed.

Source: GNA/


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