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Fiji Time: 4:13 AM on Friday 25 April

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Leprosy awareness needed

Nasik Swami
Saturday, January 26, 2013

FIJI joined the rest of the world yesterday to mark World Leprosy Day.

The day is observed internationally on January 30 or its nearest Sunday with the aim of creating public awareness and also commemorating those who toiled hard to care and remember patients affected with the disease.

Ministry of Health deputy secretary for Hospital Services Doctor Metuisela Tuicakau said while Fiji had no threat of leprosy there was an urgent need for more awareness.

Dr Tuicakau said Fiji still had three active cases of leprosy.

"Two cases are from the Western Division and one is in the Central Division.

"These three cases are not a threat as the patients are on active treatments," he said.

Leprosy is caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium Leprae and affects primarily the skin, nerves and the mucosa and tends to attack the cooler parts of the body such as feet, ears and face.

"In Fiji from the year 1911 to 1969 there were 4000 leprosy cases and close to 2000 from the year 1969 to 2011. These cases were wiped out by the ministry's treatments and awareness of the disease," he said.