Ramsammy optimistic leprosy will soon be eradicated here

Guyana Chronicle
January 29, 2003

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MINISTER of Health, Dr Leslie Ramsammy has promised to ensure that the education programme is conducted throughout the country and is optimistic Guyana will soon eradicate leprosy (Hansen's disease) as a public health cover.

He also assured that his ministry will continue to facilitate further reduction, through education, of the stigma attached to the malady.

The minister gave the undertakings in a message to mark the 50th anniversary of World Leprosy Day.

The January 25 observance was under the theme 'Keep Leprosy Under Control' and Ramsammy said he is sure that can be achieved.

He said it is important for all to spend some time examining attitudes towards the easily treated and curable disease as much has changed and it is no longer incurable.

Diagnosis is much easier and accessible here and, most importantly, treatment is available, he stressed, noting that the consequence is that stigma and discrimination have been considerably decreased.

"We need to learn about it and, if we think someone we know may be at risk, encourage the person to see the doctor," Ramsammy appealed.

He maintained that, if the disease is to be eradicated from our communities and its exposure to children prevented, all must be done to support those who are ill now, so that everyone can obtain the maximum benefit from available treatment.

"In this way, the disease will gradually disappear from our midst," the minister said.

"We have been assured by the experts of the World Health Organisation that leprosy is not as easy to catch as childhood diseases such as measles and chicken pox and, once the medications are taken regularly, this disease is curable," he reiterated.

Pointing out that Ministry of Health and the Government of Guyana have always had an active Hansen's disease programme, Ramsammy said: "We are grateful for the assistance of the Netherlands Leprosy Relief Association.

"At the outset also, we acknowledge the dedication of Dr Holly Alexander and her staff who travel across the country providing care, treatment and education for those affected by Hansen's disease.

"Fourteen clinics are conducted monthly at Wismar, Linden; Soesdyke; Skeldon; Port Mourant; New Amsterdam; Clonbrook; Grove; Lodge; David Rose; Parika, De Kinderen and Vreed-en-Hoop. Every Wednesday, a clinic is held at The Palms Compound, Brickdam, Georgetown," he reported.

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