Currently, there are six provinces that have not achieved leprosy eradication in Indonesia
Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Health Ministry has said it recorded 7,201 new leprosy cases caused by mycobacterium leprae across the nation in 2021.

"During 2021, more than seven thousand leprosy cases were discovered within one year. Currently, there are six provinces that have not achieved leprosy eradication in Indonesia," Deputy Minister of Health Dante Saksono Harbuwono said at the commemoration of World Leprosy Day on Monday.

The six provinces that have not yet reached the leprosy eradication target include West Papua, Papua, Maluku, North Maluku, North Sulawesi, and West Sulawesi, he added.

The prevalence of leprosy in the six provinces is still more than 1 per 10 thousand population, meaning that for every 10 thousand residents in the area there is one person afflicted with leprosy, he informed.

Leprosy transmission has continued in Indonesia, he said.

As per reports, the incidence of disabilities was 84.6 percent in the new cases, he said, adding that 15.4 percent of leprosy patients shows a delay in leprosy handling.

In 2021, the incidence of new leprosy cases in children was 10.9 percent, which was higher than the target of less than 5 percent spread across 27 provinces, he noted.

Later, the incidence of new cases of disability was recorded at 5.15 percent spread over 21 provinces, he said.

"Early detection is important for treating patients immediately. Leprosy can cause economic problems and stigmatization of leprosy patients and their families," he added.

In January 2021, as many as 101 districts/cities in six provinces in Indonesia had not achieved leprosy eradication, he said.

The Ministry of Health is targeting to eradicate leprosy in these areas by no later than 2024.

Efforts towards leprosy eradication can be similar to COVID-19 handling in terms of using optimal testing, tracing, and treatment mechanisms, the deputy minister said. "This effort is the shared responsibility of the central and regional governments."

Meanwhile, World Leprosy Day themed "Eliminate Stigma and Discrimination Against Leprosy" was commemorated at Central General Hospital (RSUP) Dr. Sitanala Tangerang, Banten, on Monday. The event was attended by a number of practitioners working with leprosy patients.

Director of prevention and control of vector and zoonotic diseases at the Ministry of Health, Siti Nadia Tarmizi, said that efforts to eliminate stigma and discrimination of people with leprosy have been carried out through a number of activities, such as public education, sharing of information related to the disease by leprosy patients, and the installation of billboards related to the leprosy eradication program in several areas.

"All elements from the private sector, professional organizations, community organizations, development partners, and the media have played an active role in providing information so that the public can obtain accurate and correct information about leprosy," Tarmizi informed.

She said that leprosy is a disease that does not progress quickly if the right treatment is provided as soon as possible.

"Leprosy can be cured. With early detection and treatment, we can avoid disability in patients," she added.

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Translator: Andi Firdaus, Resinta S
Editor: Sri Haryati
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