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Stigma, discrimination affecting early detection, completion of treatment in leprosy

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National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Elimination Program (NTLEP) has described stigma and discrimination as the major challenges in early detection and successful completion of treatment in persons affected by leprosy disease in the society.

Leprosy Coordinator, Mercy Mziya, was speaking Monday during a TB and Leprosy Media and Faith Based Organizations (FBO) Bi-Annual meeting in Salima.

Mziya said many people with leprosy are failing to disclose their condition due to fear of stigma and discrimination.

“Stigma surrounding leprosy and discrimination against persons affected by the disease continue to affect early detection and successful completion of treatment,” she said.

Mziya said many people affected by the disease especially those with disabilities continue to experience social exclusion, depression and loss of lively hood.

She added that their families also suffer stigma.

Mziya reminded people that leprosy is treatable as the person affected becomes non infectious when put on treatment.

Leprosy survivor from Mchinji, Harlod Harrison, said before he was put on treatment his condition was worsening due to stigma and discriminated by the community.

“People didn’t want to associate with me because of the way my skin was looking,” he said.

Later, Harrison said, he was taken to the hospital where they discovered that it was leprosy and was immediately put on treatment.

He said he is now healed of the disease after he followed all the requirements of taking treatment.

Leprosy is a disease caused by bacteria and mainly affect the skin and nerves.

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