Beat Leprosy, End Stigma and advocate for Mental Wellbeing – World Leprosy Day 2021

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World Leprosy Day takes place on the last Sunday of January, and this year World Leprosy Day taken place on 31st January 2021. The World Leprosy Day established in 1954 by French philanthropist Raoul Follereau, it aims to raise awareness about leprosy (now called Hansen’s disease) and teach people about this ancient disease and that it is easily curable today.

This year, World Leprosy day brought “Beat Leprosy, End Stigma and advocate for Mental Wellbeing” theme, which is to beat leprosy, spread word that leprosy curable, end stigma and advocate mental wellbeing of persons who have experienced leprosy.

The Following explanation about leprosy.

Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae. The disease mainly 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 infancy to very old age. Leprosy is curable and treatment in the early stages can prevent disability.

Leprosy is likely transmitted via droplets, from the nose and mouth, during close and frequent contact with untreated cases. Untreated, leprosy can cause progressive and permanent damage to the skin, nerves, limbs, and eyes.

The disease can cause skin symptoms such as:

  • Discolored patches of skin, usually flat, that may be numb and look faded (lighter than the skin around)
  • Growths (nodules) on the skin
  • Thick, stiff or dry skin
  • Painless ulcers on the soles of feet
  • Painless swelling or lumps on the face or earlobes
  • Loss of eyebrows or eyelashes

Symptoms caused by damage to the nerves are:

  • Numbness of affected areas of the skin
  • Muscle weakness or paralysis (especially in the hands and feet)
  • Enlarged nerves (especially those around the elbow and knee and in the sides of the neck)
  • Eye problems that may lead to blindness (when facial nerves are affected)

Symptoms caused by the disease in the mucous membranes are:

  • A stuffy nose
  • Nosebleeds

If left untreated, the signs of advanced leprosy can include:

  • Paralysis and crippling of hands and feet
  • Shortening of toes and fingers due to reabsorption
  • Chronic non-healing ulcers on the bottoms of the feet
  • Blindness
  • Loss of eyebrows
  • Nose disfigurement

Other complications that may sometimes occur are Painful or tender nerves, Redness and pain around the affected area, Burning sensation in the skin.

Leprosy or Hansen’s disease is treated with a combination of antibiotics. Typically, 2 or 3 antibiotics are used at the same time. These are dapsone with rifampicin, and clofazimine is added for some types of the disease.

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Reference:

www.who.int

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AMSA-Unhas (Asian Medical Students' Association-Unhas) was founded on 2002. It is a board member in AMSA-Indonesia (since 2004) and AMSA-International (since 2005).

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