Banke, Bardiya face challenges for leprosy elimination

RANJHA: Despite a decrease in leprosy cases compared to previous years, Banke and Bardiya districts in the Lumbini Province continue to report new cases of this chronic infectious disease, posing challenges to its elimination.

During the fiscal year 2079-80 BS (2022-23), Shinning Hospital in Janaki Rural Municipality, Banke, identified 126 cases of leprosy. Hospital Chief Mangal Bahadur Tharu said that, of the cases detected last year, 55 were from Banke, 37 from Bardiya, and the remaining from other districts in Lumbini, Karnali, and Sudur Paschim provinces.

Operated by the NGO INF Nepal, the hospital had identified 157 leprosy cases in the fiscal year 2078-79 BS (2021-22). According to Tharu, regular camps are being conducted in various locations to find out hidden cases of the disease.

Ram Bahadur Chand, the health division chief of Nepalgunj sub-metropolis, acknowledged challenges in leprosy prevention and underlined the need for more actions including leprosy camps to identify hidden cases.

Jeevan Rajaure, the leprosy focal person at the District Health Office in Bardiya, said the social perception towards leprosy patients has not yet completely changed and the people with the issue face stigma in the society. “It has hindered their access to medical care.”

Gyanendra Kumar Chaudhary, Chief of the District Coordination Committee in Banke, commended INF’s role in promoting public awareness against leprosy, identifying undiagnosed cases, and contributing to prevention efforts in the area. He pledged to facilitate among the three-tier government to allocate the budget to the district for leprosy elimination initiatives in the district.

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