Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday urged everyone to shun negative attitudes toward leprosy patients. She instead recommended authorities concerned to take initiatives for their proper treatment.
“We have to discard the mentality that if anyone is afflicted with leprosy, the person should be isolated from society,” she said while inaugurating the National Conference 2019 on Zero Leprosy Initiative by 2030 at the capital’s Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel.
She urged local pharmaceutical companies to produce medicines for the disease. “If they [pharmaceutical companies] produce special medicines for leprosy and take measures to distribute them for free, we’ll reach our target [of zero leprosy] very quickly,” she said.
Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease that mainly affects the skin, nerves and mucosal surfaces of the upper respiratory tract and eyes, according to WHO.
WHO statistics state 3,000-4,000 new leprosy cases were detected every year from 2011-2017 in Bangladesh. Leprosy is curable and early treatment averts most disabilities.
Noting that once leprosy was considered a curse, the premier said institutions need to conduct further research to better understand the disease and prevent its spread.
Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque presided over the inaugural session of the conference. Chairperson of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim and WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination Yohei Sasakawa spoke on the occasion. Health Services Division Secretary Md Ashadul Islam delivered the welcome speech.