BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya: The Provincial Health Office (PHO) here has listed five new cases of leprosy and the patient assisted by health workers in the province, who called on those who may be infected to immediately consult health centers.
But the additional cases, according to the PHO, did not increase the number of leprosy cases in Nueva Vizcaya.
“Leprosy cases in this province continue to decrease with the intensified information campaign conducted by the local and national government health workers,” said Angie Cajucom, national control program coordinator of the PHO.
Cajucom said that once the office has detected and is informed of the incidence of leprosy in a certain area, it immediately conducts information campaign and assists those afflicted with the disease to undergo medical treatment to avoid its spread.
In the 1980s and 1990s, leprosy patients in the province were in great numbers and were assisted by the St. Francis Mission in coordination with other health offices.
But since then, the PHO has reported a downtrend of leprosy incidence in the province.
Cajucom has called on all leprosy patients to immediately consult the nearest health centers for assistance and treatment.
“Let us not be ashamed because this can be treated especially at its early stage and prevent its spread to others,” she said.
Today, about 180,000 people worldwide are infected with leprosy, according to the World Health Organization, most of them in Africa and Asia. About 200 people are diagnosed with leprosy in the United States every year, mostly in the South, California, Hawaii, and some US territories.
In their information campaigns in the province, health experts explain that leprosy is an infectious disease that causes severe and disfiguring skin sores, and nerve damage in the arms and legs. The disease been around since ancient times.
Health experts say the disease is often surrounded by terrifying, negative stigmas and tales of leprosy patients being shunned as outcasts, and that outbreaks of leprosy have affected, and panicked people in every continent.
However, health experts in the province said leprosy is actually not that contagious and a person can catch it only when he or she comes into close and repeated contact with nose and mouth droplets from someone with untreated leprosy. Children are more likely to get leprosy than adults.
The oldest civilizations of China, Egypt and India feared leprosy was an incurable, mutilating, and contagious disease.