With 50,000 New Cases a Year, Brazil Has Long Way to Eradicate Leprosy

The II South-Southeast Macroregional Encounter to Evaluate the Elimination of Hansen’s disease  is being held in Brazil.

Brazil’s health policy to combat leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, in 206 municipalities that have been assigned priority, because they contain 70% of the known cases of the disease in the country, is the main topic of discussion.

The encounter began July 13 and ends today in Curitiba, the capital the southern Brazilian state Paraná.

According to the secretary of Health Surveillance, Expedito Luna, “there are 50 thousand new cases each year, which represents an index of 2.7 cases for each ten thousand inhabitants.

“And we are currently treating around 30 thousand victims, which corresponds to 1.7 individuals per 10 thousand inhabitants,” Luna affirmed.

The World Health Organization (WHO) considers Hansen’s disease to be eradicated when the index is less than one case for each ten thousand inhabitants, he informed.

According to Luna, Brazil has done less than it could to eliminate Hansen’s disease, and the population needs to become more aware that the problem exists and must be diagnosed and treated.

“We are the only country in the Americas that still appears on the list of countries with the highest incidence of Hansen’s disease in the world.

“Even the poorest countries have succeeded in eradicating the disease; thus, the importance of periodic meetings to discuss and strengthen the actions that have been undertaken in the prioritized municipalities and states,” Luna affirmed.

The secretary recalled that, until the decade of the 1950’s, victims of the disease were isolated in hospital colonies. He said that Brazil still has 33 hospitals of this type, which are being remodeled with financial assistance from the federal government, since patients can receive treatment, which is free, and return home.

He said that, by year’s end, the Ministry of Health expects to transfer US$ 298 million (R$ 700 million) to states and municipalities to use in the surveillance and control of contagious diseases.

US$ 12.7 million (R$ 30 million) of this total will be earmarked for the National Program to Eliminate Hansen’s Disease.

ABr – www.radiobras.gov.br



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