Leprosy eliminated from 119 countries: moot told

KARACHI: An awareness program for the prevention and control of Leprosy was held at Fatima Jinnah Dental College for the benefit of students, teachers and staff in collaboration with Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre as a public awareness program.

The future doctors took keen interest and were very appreciative of the achievement of Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre in controlling this highly contagious and disfiguring disease by their persistent and continued efforts during the last 60 years.

Dr. Sabiha Mirza, Head of Pathology department and Vice Principal of Fatima Jinnah Dental College introduced the topic. She termed Leprosy as a chronic, dreaded, disfiguring but a curable disease, present since times immemorial with a stigma attached to it. It was most prevalent in Europe, the Middle East and South East Asia. Historically, people infected were often confined against their will in leper colonies.

She said Leprosy has been eliminated from 119 countries out of 122 countries where the disease was considered as a public health problem in 1985. Presently, 80% burden of the disease is shared by three countries namely, India, Brazil and Indonesia.

Dr. Sabiha Mirza, with applause from the large gathering, expressed her gratitude over the last 60 years, due to the dedication and hard work by Dr. Ruth Pfau, the moving force behind Marie Adelaide Centre, Pakistan has been able to control leprosy. In fact, by 1996, Pakistan had already controlled leprosy and had moved on to leprosy elimination. She hoped for achieving similar success for elimination of Polio.

Dr. Muther Zia, Leprologist, Director, Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre, highlighted the achievements of his Centre and achieved the near impossible of arriving at the stage of eliminating this terrible disease from Pakistan and at the least cost to the Government. This has been achieved by the dedicated, persistent and selfless indulgence of a few workers and volunteers inspired by Dr. Ruth Pfau, who has adopted all cultural and behavioural manners of the people and considers Pakistan as a home.

Dr. Zia made a passionate appeal for those wishing to donate towards the ongoing efforts of the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre. He joined the judges for the poster competition. Three posters were awarded cash prizes. He also inaugurated the Table Clinic for Leprosy and distributed souvenirs to the participants.

In the end Dr S Baqar Askary, Chief Executive & Head of the Institution, Fatima Jinnah Dental College, thanked Dr. Zia and his team. He wished for the long life of elderly Dr. Ruth Pfau and commended her for this miracle she has performed. The function was followed by group photographs.

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