Paraguay reports average of 300 leprosy cases annually in recent years


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on me On the last Sunday in January, World Leprosy Day is commemorated. The purpose of the celebration is to raise awareness about the existence of the disease and to avoid stigma among those affected.

This year, 2023, the slogan of the National Leprosy Control Program is “Start Now. End Leprosy,” which draws attention to three points.

  • Elimination is possible: We have the power and the tools to stop transmission and defeat this disease.
  • Act now: We need resources and commitments to end leprosy. Prioritize leprosy eradication.
  • Reaching those left behind: leprosy is both preventable and treatable. Suffering from leprosy is not necessary.

The disease is completely curable and treatment is effective, if followed properly, which consists of a combination of antibiotics called multiplex chemotherapy (PQT). Leprosy mainly affects the skin, nerves, mucous membrane of the upper respiratory tract and eyes.

Photo/Robert Herrmann

According to the Pan American Health Organization PAHO/WHO, in some cases symptoms may appear as early as nine months after contamination, and in others, it may take up to 20 years. It is transmitted through close and frequent contact with untreated infected people.

The initial symptoms are light or dark spots or nodules on the skin, which cause skin lesions and loss of sensation in the affected area. Other symptoms include muscle weakness and tingling in the hands and feet. When cases are not treated at the onset of signs and symptoms, the disease can cause progressive and permanent complications, including disfigurements and deformities, decreased limb movement, and even blindness.

In Paraguay, from 2017 to 2021, 1,493 new cases were registered in the country, with an average of 298.5 cases per year. It should be noted that in the period from 2016 to 2021, a higher percentage of new cases was observed in males.

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The National Leprosy Control Program covers nationwide coverage of the diagnosis and treatment of this disease. Likewise, it has regional coordinators and monthly training for health professionals is established to improve patient management.

The drug is provided to patients in all health districts, through regional coordinators who carry out epidemiological surveillance. In every health district, treatment is free and can be done at any USF, as part of primary care. It should be noted that the treatment and laboratory are provided free of charge throughout the country.

The Ministry of Public Health urges citizens to consult before spots appear on the skin to rule out the possibility of an outbreak of leprosy. For more information, contact the Dermatological Specialty Center, Calleri, San Lorenzo, Tel: 021-585807, Monday through Friday 7:00 am to 3:00 pm

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