LEPROSY cases in Davao Region reached to 174 in 2017, up by 39.2 percent as against the previous year with 125, the Department of Health (DOH)-Davao said.
DOH-Davao Leprosy Control Program medical coordinator Dr. Vergel Bautista said in a Connect press conference at SM Lanang Premier on January 26 that of the total cases, there were 110 new cases of leprosy in the region last year.
Of the five provinces in the region, Davao del Sur has most number of new cases of leprosy with 19 cases, higher compared to other areas with five to eight cases only.
Leprosy, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae. It mainly affects the skin, the peripheral nerves, mucosal surfaces of the upper respiratory tract, and the eyes.
In fourth quarter alone in 2017, the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) in Davao City noted 63 patients diagnosed with leprosy. The patients, DOH noted, are from other provinces and regions in Mindanao.
Meanwhile, the DOH-Davao will observe this year's World Leprosy Day in Bansalan town, Davao del Sur.
This year's observation is centered in the theme: "Fighting Disease, Poverty and Prejudice."
Bautista said the department aims to raise awareness on the disease that people believe to be extinct. He said there are still people who are hesitant to undergo check-up.
"The department wants to celebrate the leprosy day in Davao del Sur to increase awareness, to erase the stigma, and to encourage people to seek medical attention and help para di na sila mahawa and makahawa sa iba," Bautista said.
Leprosy's mode of transmission is by air droplet infection wherein the bacilli lodge in the skin or mucus membranes such as in the nose and eyes.
Prolonged skin contact can also be a means for the disease transmission.
The average incubation period is three to five years, but the bacilli can also remain dormant inside a person for up to 15 years, which means that within this period, the person having the bacilli may not manifest the signs and symptoms.
DOH has been encouraging people with skin diseases to go to the nearest government health center/s where it also conducted "Kilatis Kutis" activity. This way, early detection of the disease can be done.
Bautista said free medicines for leprosy patients are available at their health centers.
He said proper support of the families of the suspected persons with leprosy is a big help for the cure and prevention of the disease.