KARACHI: Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre (MALC) is working for the elimination of Leprosy, TB and blindness from Pakistan besides community developments for the last 56 years and since inception, more than 56,500 leprosy patients have been registered out of which 98 percent of patients are treated free of cost in 157 Leprosy Centers throughout Pakistan.
About 300 to 400 new cases are being registered at MALC every year and it is estimated that this would continue for two decades. A well-knitted network of 157 control centers nationwide mostly in remote areas is functioning in close collaboration with provincial governments and providing services to the patients and communities free of charge.
“There is need to create public awareness to minimize the burden of this disease,” these views were expressed by speakers at Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre (MALC) during a press briefing organized on Saturday in connection of World Leprosy Day 2015.
Dr Ruth Pfau sharing her views on the occasion informed that World Leprosy Day not only symbolizes our feelings of togetherness and love with patients affected by leprosy but also provide an opportunity to all of us working for leprosy to come closer and renew our commitment for a leprosy free world.
In 1996, Leprosy was controlled in Pakistan. The prevalence of the disease reduced to the extent that the World Health Organization declared the disease to be under control in Pakistan, one of the first countries in EMRO Region to achieve this goal.
Leprosy elimination is successfully being achieved; however elimination is not the end of Leprosy. There are many challenges in terms of physical and social rehabilitation, which will go on even in the post elimination phase. Achievement of gradual elimination of leprosy was because of the concerted efforts by a team of committed workers. She said leprosy elimination does not mean that disease has been eradicated from the country. She appealed to the people to do away with stigma attached to disease and tendency to ostracise the sufferer.
Dr Mutahir Zia said that according to statistics available at MALC, the positive development is continuing, prevalence rates are below the WHO recommended threshold, between 0.27 per 10,000 population in Karachi and 0.04 in Azad Kashmir, and are decreasing further. Incidence rates are only up in Karachi with 1.68 per 100,000 population, still above the required figure. Rates of total patients are now so low that for Northern Areas, Azad Kashmir, and Balochistan, percentage can no longer be calculated.
Of all the provinces, only Punjab, though a low prevalence area, is showing increasing numbers of Leprosy cases, otherwise trends are persistent. Karachi is focal point as it is also treating the patients from Balochistan and interior of Sindh province and even Afghan refugees and others parts of the country.
He was of the view that about 6,461 Leprosy patients received free treatment for leprosy and general diseases along with comprehensive care facility to prevent deformity and aid rehabilitation. The 10,086 precious lives are saved from TB- they received free treatment from MALC. The 57 percent of them were women and children. The 2,948 blind people have had their eye sight restored by surgeries, 204,630 people received free consultation, and 61,727 children were protected from night blindness. About 60 deformed and homeless patients received day care and medical services at Ittehad Manzil (MALC’s Home for Crippled Patients). The 1,703 Leprosy ulcer patients received indoor nursing care and surgical treatment free of charge in the wards of MALC Hospital. The 141,912 skin patients received free consultation, lab services and treatment in the hospital at MALC.