National TB and Leprosy Elimination Program (NTLEP) says Malawi recorded 372 cases in 2022 and many of the patients did not have reliable access to nutritious food.
Leprosy Coordinator Mercy Mziya Nyasa said it most leprosy patients were people coming from poor families and this is attributed lack of access to nutritious food.
In an interview with Malawi24 during TB and Leprosy Media and FBOs Bi-Annual meeting in Zomba, Mziya stressed that when the immune system of a person is low, the person can easily be attacked by leprosy than a person whose immunity is able to fight back.
“Those who get in contact with leprosy patients out of 100 percent, 5 percent can get leprosy while 95 percent are able to fight the bacteria. So the rich may be able to fight the disease though it can infect anyone whether rich or poor,” she explained.
In terms of gender, Mziya said that leprosy affects both males and females though it has shown that more males are the ones reporting cases of leprosy than females.
She then encouraged people in the country to go to hospital whenever they notice signs and symptoms of leprosy so that they get treatment on time.
One of the representatives from faith based leaders, Sheikh Ibrahim Mjatu said the meeting was an eye opener because he had little knowledge about the disease as such going forward he will spread the news of leprosy to his fellow Muslim believers so that they can have knowledge about the disease.
Mjatu continued by saying that being an influential person who has privilege to interact with different people including those who are in prisons, he will come up with new strategies to ensure that everyone is aware of the disease regardless of their status.
Leprosy is caused by bacteria known as Mycobacteria leprae. It mainly affects the skin and nerves. The period between infection and seeing symptoms is long -five years on average, but can be anything between one year and 20 years.
Leprosy occurs at any age but peak incidence is seen in young adults in endemic countries.
Occurrence of the disease depends on immunological status of an individual. Majority of population is immune to leprosy.
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