Leprosy is a disease of the poor

Leprosy is a disease of the poor

Leprosy is an avoidable disease

Worldwide, more than 200,000 people develop leprosy every year. The infectious disease can be cured well with antibiotics. But wherever people get leprosy - especially in very poor countries like Uganda, India, Brazil and Indonesia - medical care is poor. If they are given six to twelve months of therapy, they are officially cured. However, many retain visible disabilities such as mutilated hands and feet or a scarred face and are discriminated against and marginalized. "The social disease leprosy is hardly curable," wrote Gudrun Freifrau von Wiedersperg, honorary president of the German Leprosy and Tuberculosis Aid (DAHW) in a message in the run-up to World Leprosy Day on January 25th.

Pharmaceutical industry does little research on lepa Experts see the reasons for the still high number of new leprosy infections above all in the lack of education and prevention in the affected regions. Since the pharmaceutical industry is lacking interest in investing in leprosy research, there is a great deal of ignorance about the disease and there is a lack of rapid tests and vaccines, explains Jürgen Hövekenmeier, spokesman for the DAHW to the news agency "dpa". Because leprosy only affects the poor, whose immune system is weakened. “Leprosy could be easily defeated if we knew more about it. It has long been an avoidable disease, ”Hövekenmeier continues. However, too little is known about the transmission routes. In addition, a large part of the world's population is resistant to the infectious disease. "Why this is the case is not scientifically clarified at all. Probably many people carry the pathogen without ever falling ill, but they can infect others. "

Leprosy patients are discriminated against and marginalized. In leprosy patients, the nerves die, so that they usually lose the feeling of pain, warmth and cold. At the same time, the arteries and veins become blocked by thickening of the blood. If they do not receive treatment, they easily injure themselves because of the loss of feeling. Some dangerous inflammation can then go unnoticed over the wounds, causing the affected parts of the body to die. Another symptom is the conspicuous skin changes caused by so-called lepromas (nodes), which initially affect and decompose the skin on the face and, as the disease progresses, also bones, muscles, tendons and internal organs.

"There are around 4 million people living with the typical disabilities after a leprosy disease," reports von Wiedersperg. “These mutilations of the hands and feet, and sometimes the faces, make it easy for people to recognize that it is a result of leprosy. The stamp ‘leprosy’ is stamped on and will not be released. “Therefore, sufferers and their families would be massively discriminated against and marginalized. For example, employers would lay off employees suffering from leprosy, mayors and neighbors would drive affected people out of the cities, and even children of leprosy patients would be excluded from school. (ag)

Image: Wikipedia; Leprosy - Deformations of the hands, Rajahmundry, India - B.jehle

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