The Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr. Kalumbi Shangula, emphasized the need for continued awareness and action against the persistent issue of leprosy in the country.
In a statement issued on Monday as the country commemorated the day in the Zambezi Region, Shangula acknowledged that despite advancements, Namibia still grapples with new leprosy cases, reporting 22 cases in the previous year until September 2023.
The Zambezi Region accounted for seven cases, the Kavango region for eleven, Oshana reported three, and Omusati had one case.
Shangula assured the public of the Health Ministry’s commitment to maintaining high treatment success rates to prevent re-infection and community transmission. Tools have been developed to periodically reassess patients previously treated for leprosy, as well as evaluate the families of those diagnosed with the disease and undergoing treatment.
Namibia has taken proactive measures to address leprosy, having produced a National Guideline for the Management of Leprosy. A budget has been allocated for the training of health workers to enhance early detection and management of leprosy, aligning with the latest World Health Organization (WHO) Guidelines for the Management of Leprosy.
Despite achieving global leprosy elimination status since 2004, with less than one case per 10,000 populations, sporadic cases continue to be reported from various regions, particularly in the northern parts of the country.
Shangula highlighted the importance of this year’s World Leprosy Day theme, “Beat Leprosy, End Stigma, and Advocate for Mental Well-being,” emphasizing the dual objectives of eradicating stigma associated with leprosy and promoting the dignity of those affected. The day serves as a reminder of the ongoing battle against leprosy and the collective responsibility to address associated challenges.