(CMR) Health officials in Barbados have assured the public that there is no need to panic following the confirmation of a case of leprosy last week.
Speaking with Barbados Today, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Arthur Phillips said the case was being treated.
The announcement that one leprosy patient was currently being treated came as concerns about the disease rose after St Lucia reported 11 new cases, a 120 percent increase from 2020 to 2023.
According to the World Health Organization, Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae. The disease affects the skin, the peripheral nerves, mucosal surfaces of the upper respiratory tract and the eyes. Leprosy is known to occur at all ages, ranging from early childhood to old age. Leprosy is curable and treatment during early stages can prevent disability.
Leprosy is transmitted via droplets from the nose and mouth during close and frequent contact with untreated cases.
The Global Appeal 2024 to End Stigma and Discrimination against Persons Affected by Leprosy will be launched at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on January 31, 2024. The ceremony will be led by the Sasakawa Leprosy (Hansen’s Disease) Initiative and hosted by WHO.
The Appeal is being signed by WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, representatives from global priority countries for leprosy, and WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination Yohei Sasakawa.