The spread of leprosy in the world (overview)
Rome (AsiaNews) – Each year about 700 thousand cases of leprosy are diagnosed throughout the world, spead across the continents of Asia, Africa and South America. With over 160 thousand infections in 2008 alone, Asia is the continent most affected by this disease. Of these about 100 thousand were recorded in India, where about 70% of global cases live. Along with India the most affected countries are: Angola, Brazil, Congo, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Liberia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nepal and Tanzania, where the disease affects one person every 10 thousand inhabitants.
Leprosy is a very contagious infectious disease and manifests itself through skin lesions and lesions of peripheral nerves. If undiagnosed, in its advanced stages it can lead to paralysis and death. A cure has existed for some years, but for it to be effective it must be administered before the stage of paralysis. However in poor countries the population is uninformed and often seek the help of the health services when it is already too late. This renders the drugs effectively useless and untreated patients may infect others, contributing to the spread of leprosy.
According to members of the Italian Association Amici di Raoul Follereau (Aifo), to eradicate the disease research is required into early diagnosis, training of health personnel in most countries affected by the disease and especially effective public awareness campaigns.
Aifo is the main promoter of the 57th World Day of Leprosy Suffers. With more than 4 thousand volunteers it is active in the main countries affected by the disease through the distribution of medicines, public awareness campaigns and the rehabilitation of sick people in their communities.