At least 26 cases of grade two leprosy disease have been reported in the Acholi Sub Region.
Statistics from the Acholi Sub Regional Leprosy coordinator, Jimmy Komakech show that 26 new cases of severe leprosy have been reported with five cases reported in Gulu district. Kitgum, Lamwo and Nwoya have four cases each.
The other affected districts are Omoro, Amuru, and Pader districts with each registering three cases. The same report indicates that the cases are many among persons with disabilities.
Komakech says that there could be many more cases within the community that were neither reported to health facilities nor diagnosed or detected.
In Gulu district, Jacob Ojok the Leprosy Focal Point person says that the detection and early diagnosis of the disease is still the major challenge among the health workers.
Dr Sarah Byakika the Commissioner in Charge of Planning at the Ministry of Health says that Leprosy is still a problem in the country with 50% of the patients reporting Grade 2 Leprosy presenting among persons with disability at the time of the first diagnosis against the 13.8% target rate.
She attributes this to low awareness of leprosy and delayed diagnosis, something she says calls for increased awareness about the disease.
Leprosy is a chronic, curable infectious disease mainly causing skin lesions and nerve damage. It is caused by infection with the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae and mainly affects the skin, eyes, nose, and peripheral nerves.
Symptoms include light-colored or red skin patches with reduced sensation, numbness, and weakness in hands and feet.
Leprosy can be cured with 6-12 months of multi-drug therapy. Early treatment avoids disability.
The Ministry of Health states that Uganda has achieved the target of elimination of Leprosy as a public health problem however, several new Leprosy continues to be notified annually.
In 2009, the case detection rate was 1.2/100,000. New cases continue to occur but 2/3 of cases came from only 13 out of 112 districts. New cases are unevenly distributed and this complicates Leprosy control efforts.