KARACHI - Every year, approximately 400 to 500 new leprosy cases are registered all over Pakistan.

Last year 413 leprosy cases were registered, of them 71 cases were found deformed. This accounts for 17 percent of all registered patients. Sindh has the greatest number of leprosy patients from Pakistan.

These views were expressed by leprosy experts including Mervyn Lobo, Chief Executive Officer, Dr Ali Murtaza, Director Training and Savio Pereira, Director Human Resources & Administration at a press briefing organised by MALC to mark World Leprosy Day at its head office, Karachi on Saturday.

Board of Director, Administrative Staff and Leprosy patient were also present on the occasion.

“In 2017, there were 194 cases from Sindh which accounts for 47 percent. On national level, Karachi accounts for 23 percent of the leprosy cases, but on a provincial level the number rises to almost 50 percent. In 2017, 96 cases were registered of them 27 (28%) had confirmed deformities. So far in Pakistan, there have been 57,960 registered cases (2018) and by the grace of God, 91% have been completely cured and the individuals are leading a normal life.

He further added that the number of patients under treatment is also gradually decreasing, with the present number standing at 512.

CEO Mervyn Lobo further revealed that Leprosy situation in Pakistan is encouraging: The new Leprosy cases are less than 1% in every 100,000, patients under treatment are less than one in every 10,000, disability ratio is less than one in 100,000, and among children cases disability rate is 0%.

Every year, around the globe, World Leprosy Day is celebrated on the last Sunday of January. This day is commemorated to refresh the world to pledge alliance with people affected by Leprosy. No disease in the modern world has faced stigma of equal nature as Leprosy.  MALC has been working to eliminate Leprosy from Pakistan for the last sixty years.

He informed that 2017 was a sad year for MALC and the whole nation as we lost the person behind the Leprosy Control Program Dr Ruth Pfau- Founder member of MALC. She devoted 57 years of her life for the cause and passed away at the age of 87. In order to preserve her fond memories MALC had converted her humble abode into a museum showcasing her belongings, awards, publications and some rare priceless pictures. This museum was inaugurated last year at the occasion of World Leprosy Day and was opened for public.

MALC have also stored Dr Pfau’s biography in a QR code and the image of this code has been printed on her grave so that visitors may get access to her biography and other information by scanning the code and getting directed to a link.

Dr Ali Murtaza in his remarks said that According to WHO’s strategy for 2016 – 2020, three targets have been set i.e. Zero Transmission, Zero Disability in children cases, Zero Discrimination. We all need to work hard to achieve these targets so that Leprosy can be eradicated, he added.  The key to zero disability is early detection and treatment; Leprosy can be treated by Multi Drug Therapy from 6 to 12 months depending on its type.

Leprosy Control does not mean that it has been eradicated despite all of the achievements, there are still many cases who can infect others. They need to be detected early so that they can be treated to stop further spread of the disease. This year 512 Leprosy patients are under treatment and on medication. It is important to mention here that though even there has been a decline in new cases after Leprosy Control but it has been at a very slow pace.