Namibia records 22 new leprosy cases

Hertta-Maria Amutenja

The Minister of Health and Social Services, Kalumbi Shangula has revealed that the country reported 22 new leprosy cases in September 2023.

Speaking at the commemoration of World Leprosy Day in Katima Mulilo, Shangula urging collective action to combat the stigma and discrimination associated with the disease.

Shangula disclosed the breakdown of the cases, emphasising the urgency of addressing the situation. He announced that seven cases were identified in the Zambezi Region, 11 in the Kavango Region, three in the Oshana Region, and one in the Omusati Region.

This data underscores the persistent challenge posed by leprosy in Namibia, despite ongoing efforts to raise awareness and implement preventive measures.

“World Leprosy Day provides an opportunity to take stock of our progress and challenges we face in the ongoing battle against this debilitating neglected tropical disease, which still occurs in more than 120 countries, with more than 200,000 new cases reported every year,” noted Shangula.

In addition, the Minister shed light on the discrimination faced by individuals with leprosy-caused disabilities, emphasising the Ministry’s commitment to educating communities about the curable nature of the disease.

The theme for World Leprosy Day 2024, “Beat Leprosy,” underscores the dual objectives of eradicating stigma and promoting the dignity of those affected by leprosy.

Shangula further acknowledged the partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) and The Leprosy Mission International, expressing gratitude for their support in providing technical assistance and Multi-Drug Therapies (MDTs) for effective leprosy treatment.

Furthermore, he highlighted the importance of ongoing efforts in training health workers and developing strategies, as reflected in the third Midterm Strategic Plan.

“We are cognizant, however, that the sequelae of Leprosy extend far beyond the successful treatment of the acute infection, which is why the Ministry reactivated the Leprosy Program in 2008. Additionally, the Midterm Strategic Plan for TB, since then, included Leprosy.

We developed strategies on how to fight leprosy, and the National TB and Leprosy programme is busy finalising the third Midterm Strategic Plan, of which Leprosy remains a priority.

The Ministry of Health and Social Services is committed to ensuring that all treatment success rates of Leprosy remain high to prevent re-infection and community transmission,” he said.

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