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-Leprosy in Burma

Leprosy or Hanson's Disease is a scourge that will not go away easily in 
third world countries and especially so in places like Burma where there 
is no support from the government.

At one time (in the 70s) Burma had the distinction of having the highest 
percentage of cases in relation to it's population. The community health 
sector has been doing it's best through grass-root level health workers 
and leprosy campaigns , which are funded by NGOs , to find new cases, 
and have case control but it has always been an uphill task.

Today the scenario is nearly the same , only the funding may not be 
comparable as in previous decades. There are 2 leprasoriums in Burma, 
one in Mandalay for upper Burma and another in Moulmein for lower Burma. 
These centres are equipped to treat not only the disease but also 
rehabilitate the cases with the aid of surgery , prosthese and 
occupational training so that the cases can earn a livlehood. The one in 
Moulmein, established by American missionaries about 50 years ago, still 
functions and in fact has improved in recent years through the hard work 
of the doctors and staff in charge , but mainly because financial help 
in foreign currency from NGOs is still available.The bad news is that , 
till date these centres do not have the support of the ministry of 
health except for acknowledgements and opening ceremonies when tapes are 
cut.This lack of political will in the campaign against this dreadful 
disease will certainly hold back progress in the attempt to eradicate 
leprosy in Burma. The centre in Mandalay operates independenttly and 
details are not available.

There should be more done to help the plight of these people and 
missionary and NGO help alone will not suffice in the long run. A more 
concerted effort is required and the ministry of health should be 
playing a larger role than just distributing Dapsone through health 
workers ,sporadically.

I report this ,in the inetrest of the victims as it is a cause which few 
understand and are aware of and fewer still are willing to help.


>Date: Mon, 1 Feb 1999 23:28:05 +0900
>From: "TIN KYI" <tinkyi@xxxxxxx>
>Subject: BBC-Leprosy still found in Asia, Africa, and Latin America
>To: <burmanet-l@xxxxxxxxxxx>, <burmanet2-l@xxxxxxxx>
>Monday, February 1, 1999 Published at 05:35 GMT
>Health-New focus on leprosy
>Leprosy still found in Asia, Africa, and Latin America
>By Corinne Podger of BBC Science

>The World Health Organisation is marking World Leprosy Day by 
>its campaign against a disease which causes crippling disabilities in 
>developing countries.
>Angelo Simonazzi, of the International Federation of Anti-Leprosy
>Associations: "Leprosy is also a social disease"
>The disease has almost disappeared from the developed world, but 
500,000 new
>cases are reported every year in parts of Africa, Asia and Latin 
>The WHO hopes to eliminate leprosy as a public health threat by the end 
>this year, but it is still battling a number of hurdles.
>One of the biggest is a lack of both researchers and funding. This is
>because the organism that causes leprosy is very similar to the one 
>causes tuberculosis.
>Because the incidence of TB in the developed world is rising, it gets a 
>more publicity and funding. Researchers working on leprosy complain 
>there has been a brain drain of enthusiastic young scientists into high
>profile TB projects.
>Much work to be done
>But this insidious disease still causes terrible suffering and 
>disabilities, and it is not beaten yet.
>The worst-affected countries are India, Indonesia and Myanmar (formerly
>known as Burma). Africa, the second most afflicted region has other
>obstacles to overcome, like the Aids epidemic and malaria, as well as 
>conflicts and a weaker health infrastructure.
>The WHO admits that eradicating leprosy from Africa at the moment is 
>impractical luxury".
>The tragedy is that leprosy is completely treatable. A combination of
>antibiotics can cure the disease, although damage to nerves is 
>In March, the WHO will meet with leprosy experts to see if its goal of
>beating the disease by the year 2000 can be achieved, and if not, when 
>world will be rid of it.

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