Fellow citizens, today we observe the 57th World Leprosy Day. On this occasion, I would like to extend greetings to all those affected by leprosy and express profound thanks to all those individuals and organisations actively working together for a leprosy free Guyana.
Over the years, the Ministry of Health and its partners, in this case, PAHO /WHO and the Netherlands Leprosy Relief Association, have continued to support vital work through the Guyana Leprosy Control Programme.
In addition to treatment provided, the Ministry of Health and her partners have helped to prevent disability, reduce stigma and discrimination and restore dignity to those affected by Leprosy.
As part of the continuing fight against leprosy, the World Health Organisation, in 2005, finalised the new global strategy for 2006 – 2010, this being the final year. The strategy takes note of the significant progress made in the fight against leprosy in the past and aims at further reducing the leprosy burden.
The new strategy also notes that, “Even though the leprosy burden has been reduced substantially, new cases of leprosy will continue to appear for the foreseeable future in most of the currently endemic countries.
Special expertise in leprosy and its control needs, must be maintained by us nationally.
I would like to assure the nation that we remain fully committed to the idea of a country without leprosy and we intend to continue to fight against this disease as long as is necessary.
Last year, 29 new cases of Leprosy were registered; the national incidence is 0.4 and the national prevalence 0.9 per 10,000 population. This means that Guyana has maintained the prevalence of less than 1 case for 10,000 of the population, which is the WHO target for the elimination of leprosy.
While we are justly proud of this achievement, the Ministry of Health remains convinced of the need to continue working tirelessly together with all our partners to ensure that effective leprosy activities are sustained wherever they are needed.
The Guyana Leprosy Control Programme will continue to conduct 14 skin clinics monthly across the country and you should check, for there may be one close to where you live.
With the link between poverty, exclusion and leprosy already well documented, the Ministry of Health will continue to support the prevention of disability, socio-economic rehabilitation and community development in a spirit of partnership with leprosy-affected persons.
Therefore, on this 57th World Leprosy Day, let us all celebrate our success but in keeping with the theme for this year ‘Fighting for a Just Cause’ let us also renew our commitment in our fight to achieve a country where all persons affected with leprosy do not have to worry about prejudice and stigma.
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